Kay glad for her dream job

KAY Becker will testify that mothers really do know best. If it wasn't for her mum, Marion, she may never have landed her dream job as chief executive officer of the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service (CHRS).

Kay, now the face of the organisation, had previously been working for the Cattleman's Union in Rockhampton, which eventually made way for Agforce.

To stay employed with them she would have had to go to Brisbane ? something she didn't want to do at the time.

A six-week holiday beckoned but before she left, her mother persuaded her to apply for the chief executive's job with the rescue service.

As it turned out, mum's advice was right on target.

"I wrote on my resume that I was going on holidays and I left mum's contact details on the bottom,'' Kay explained.

"I was at the Circus Circus Hotel in Las Vegas when I got a message to ring mum. They (CHRS) wanted to do a phone interview (and later an in person interview) with me.

"As they say, the rest is history.''

Chatting with Kay at the service's Canoona Road base yesterday, that word "history'' was my cue to raise the inevitable.

There were questions I had to ask about the tragedy of the past ? not knowing to what extent my request would be met.

Of course, I'm referring to the chopper crash in 2000, which killed pilot Paddy O'Brien, paramedics Craig Staines and Bill Birch, five-year-old Anthony Sherry and his mother, Susan.

The rescue helicopter crashed in thick fog in Kenela Park, 1km north-west of Marlborough, early on July 27.

"I'm the only one still here who was here when it hap- pened,'' Kay openly said, explaining that she had been with the service since 1998.

"The four months after (the accident) were just a blur. I worked on auto-pilot. I was about 46kg by the time I got over it.''

Kay said she would never forget the morning the service's most painful chapter began.

"I had telephones on both ears. I got 250 to 300 phone calls between 4am and 10am. I had trouble getting the media, mainly southern media, to understand we weren't at the accident scene. They just kept ringing for more information. I don't care if I never have to do that ever again.''

Kay said the amazing support, letters and flowers from the community had given her the resolve to go on.

"I'm definitely a stronger person for it. You realise just how fragile life is.''

On the other side of the coin, there are the happy endings. "The most satisfying part of the job is when you go rescue someone and they come back and say 'here I am'.''

The rescue service celebrates its 10th birthday on Thursday. It is partly funded by the State Government ($890,000 a year) but still relies on fundraising to the tune of $1 million a year to keep it running.

If you can spare it, why not give a birthday donation?

Who knows, maybe one day your life will be in the hands of these fantastic people.

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