A survivor’s plea
Safety mission after a near-drowning while saving cattle
NINE LIVES: Doug Browne has had several close calls his property and has as a stern message for his fellow farmers.
DOUG Browne has a knack for pulling himself out of life-threatening situations.
In the 2010-2011 floods, Mr Browne ventured out into the floodwaters on his Dalby property to save his stranded cattle.
“The floods were coming up, they run through the middle of our property as they get higher, and cut off some cattle of mine. They were caught up against some fencing,” he said.
“And I thought ‘they’re going to drown if I leave them there’. So I started walking across the flood waters.
“I got caught up in the barbed wire fence. I got washed away a bit and sucked under water.”
Mr Browne said he was rapidly running out of breath as he tried to untangle himself from the barbed wire while completely submerged.
“I didn’t panic. But I was damn glad when I got to the surface,” he said.
“I was exhausted so I managed to swim to the highest ground I could see.
“I had cuts all over me, and the floodwaters are bad for infections.
“So I called my neighbour and he came across the river in his helicopter and picked me up and flew me into the Dalby hospital.
“I managed to save all my cattle except a few calves.”
This is not the only time Mr Browne has experience a near miss while working on his property.
“I got knocked out by a piece of steel another time,” he said.
“The steel fell off the back of the truck and hit me on the back of the head. I didn’t see it coming.
“I didn’t know how long I was out for but my glasses were knocked a few metres away.
“I was knocked out completely for a while and I had a bad concussion.
“I wasn’t fully with it, but I called my wife and she called my brother in-law to come and pick me up.
“I was talking double dutch for a while but I survived.”
Mr Browne said he feels very lucky to have survived both his major accidents.
“I’ve been thrown from horses and had busted shoulders, but it was never a situation where I couldn’t save myself.”
Mr Browne hosted the UAV challenge on his property this week.
The challenge involved teams using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to rescue a dummy by the name of Outback Joe.
“I can see in the future that UAVs could be invaluable as far as rescue goes. They can use a small UAV to find the person that could be trouble,” he said.
“I was only too pleased to cooperate with the CSIRO and everyone involved. I’m pleased to do what I can. This is the second year I’ve hosted it. They have their masters and judges on the grounds here.
I didn’t panic. But I was damn glad when I got to the surface. — Doug Browne
“If one of the UAV’s or drones get here they judge how they got here and how they landed. In this competition they are given coordinates and they have to fly over marshals who are on the ground. They are following different coordinates the whole way.
“Then they have to identify the target they have to land beside Outback Joe.
“Some of them made it to the site last year but crashed and burned as they made it. Some landed in trees.”
Mr Browne believes the UAV challenge is a great way to train and educate people in the use of UAVs for rescue purposes.
“It’s a real good thing in my books,” he said.
“I don’t really have to do anything but I’m pleased to be involved with the crowd that’s running it.”
NEAR MISS: Doug Browne has managed to escaped his fair share of sticky situations.
Dalby farmer Doug Browne.
Farmer Doug Browne hangs out with Outback Joe before the UAV challenge.
Farmer Doug Browne with Outback Joe and Kelly the kelpie.
Doug Browne said he believes UAVs are useful for rescue purposes.