10 May 2023

Life-saving Cape York hero humbled by Royal Flying Doctor Service honour

| Matt Nicholls
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Emma Jackson and her loving husband Neville on Wolverton Station.

A WOMAN who helped save the life of her friend on a remote Cape York cattle station has been crowned the 2022 RFDS Local Hero Award winner for the Cairns region.

Emma Jackson lives on Wolverton Station, about 180km south of Weipa.

In late December last year, Emma’s friend Karryn Dolan and her husband Peter were visiting the Station when Karryn suffered a “widow maker” heart attack.

With Coen more than an hour’s drive away, and the nearest hospital at Weipa unable to be accessed due to flooding, Emma used the defibrillator machine on the property and performed CPR for an hour to help Peter bring his wife back to life.

Karryn was taken by ambulance to Coen where the RFDS stabilised her and flew her to Cairns Base Hospital where, thanks to Emma’s bravery and never-give-up spirit, she made a full recovery.


“It is humbling and a little embarrassing to be recognised as a hero, especially when we have so many other people around doing more incredible acts to help others,” Emma told Cape York Weekly on Monday.

“It’s an honour if I’m honest, an absolute honour that I don’t take lightly.

“Watching Karryn’s recovery has been tremendous and knowing I contributed to how well she is, is unbelievable.

“I worried that Karryn might have had brain damage whilst performing CPR but it didn’t matter.

“Nothing mattered other than bringing Karryn back to us all, especially her beautiful family.

“Karryn’s family have been more than family to us over the years. They have really supported two of my children through boarding school – and to be able to repay them in some way is wonderful.

“I never thought it would be this way though.

“When it happened, I didn’t think anything other than ‘you’re not dying’.

“(Husband) Nev, Pete and my children all did their bit to help and being my usual bossy self I threw orders around. They were brilliant. We were a team.

“It was hard. I am such an energiser bunny normally but for the few days that followed, I had nothing in me at all.

“It was just awful and not like anything I’ve ever experienced.

“It was the ultimate ‘life or death’ situation. The image of Karryn with no life won’t ever leave me. It could have been a tragedy.”

Emma Jackson with Karryn and Peter Dolan in Cairns Hospital earlier this year.

Emma said Cape York would not be able to operate without the RFDS to call upon.

“Living here would be a challenge without them,” she said.

“They are our ultimate lifesavers. They are always on the end of the phone 24/7 with expert advice and solutions.

“They provide a medical chest with medicine and equipment for any scenario as well as providing the defibrillator and training back in 2019.

“I took the value of the defibrillator for granted. I even probably took CPR training for granted but I won’t ever again.”

RFDS Queensland chief executive officer Meredith Staib congratulated Emma on winning the 2022 RFDS Local Hero Award for the Cairns region.

“Often local heroes within our communities are quiet achievers who don’t always recognise themselves as heroes – but they absolutely are,” Ms Staib said.

“From first responders and fundraisers to volunteers, fashion designers and healthcare champions, each of these individuals do amazing work to support their region.

“Some also have their own first-hand experience of the life-saving work of the RFDS, which has personally driven them to give back to their community.

“Supporting Queensland communities is at the heart of the RFDS, and it truly is a team effort, so thank you to all of this year’s winners and nominees for the unwavering support you provide to your communities each and every day.”

Ms Staib said voting was now open for the overall 2022 RFDS Queensland Hero.

Go to www.rfdslocalhero.com.au and lodge your vote.

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