Teen’s ordeal to serve as a warning to others

Teen's horror swim - her concerned mother said her daughter was hoping her story would warn other people of the risk of submerged objects. Pictures: St John Ambulance.
Teen's horror swim - her concerned mother said her daughter was hoping her story would warn other people of the risk of submerged objects. Pictures: St John Ambulance.

As the weather in the Top End is heating up and Territory swimming spots are becoming more populated, the parents of a teenager involved in a freak accident are calling upon the public to be careful around waterways and swimming holes.

Two years ago, while travelling across the Top End with her parents and siblings, Beaudine Cairns, then 16, had spent a joyful afternoon at Robin Falls near Adelaide River when she stabbed her shin on a submerged branch in the creek.

“It was a hot and humid afternoon in the Top End and we were having a cool-off in the creek downstream from the falls,” her mother Allison Cairns remembers.

“Just before we left, Beaudine had been standing in the middle of creek and simply just turned to get out of the water when she stabbed her shin.”

Mrs Cairns said her daughter’s wound just looked like someone had “sliced her shin open with a knife”.

The concerned parents took their daughter to a clinic to have the wound cleaned, but Beaudine developed an abscess in her leg.

What followed was many months of dressings, antibiotics and tests - and since the accident the young woman has endured two years of treatments and procedures, including a skin graft operation just last week.

“This wound has affected our whole family for over two years and we've even been told that if there is an infection in her bone then she will lose her leg,” Mrs Cairns said.

“It's very scary to say the least. How did something so simple get so out of control?

“Over the last month, she has been through hell and even ended up in the intensive care unit in an induced coma.

“Since this leg drama Beaudine has developed another drama of continuously passing out as a result of all the trauma. Her body can no longer take any more.

“Who would have thought that a simple splash in a creek could cause all this?”

Hailing originally from the Gold Coast, the Cairns family started travelling fulltime many years ago and never envisaged themselves needing the urgent help of St John Ambulance paramedics.

“We appreciate and thank St John Ambulance for providing a wonderful and needed service to the community. We would be lost without St John,” Mrs Cairns said.

The concerned mother said her daughter was hoping her story would warn other people of the risk of submerged objects, especially with the upcoming Build-Up that will lure Territorians and travellers alike to Top End swimming holes.

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