A sur­vivor’s plea

Safety mis­sion after a near-drown­ing while sav­ing cat­tle

Warwick Daily News - South West Queensland Rural Weekly - - Front Page - CAS­SAN­DRA GLOVER Cas­san­dra.glover@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

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.”

PHOTO: JOSH SMALL­WOOD

PHO­TOS: JOSH SMALL­WOOD

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.

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