GRAPHIC IMAGE WARNING: Impaled, scared and alone on beach
"KEEP calm and help will come."
That's what Kristina Austerberry kept thinking when she was impaled on a branch, trapped and alone on a deserted beach.
The 23-year-old had been camping with her partner at Norval Park, north of Bundaberg, in the middle of summer.
She often camped and never thought the trip would end in horror.
What seemed a simple task, moving a boat anchor on the beach, ended with Miss Austerberry injured and stuck in the boiling sun, waiting for help for more than two-and-a-half hours.
Miss Austerberry tripped and a pointed branch went through her lower right leg, immobilising her.
Her phone had little reception but she was able to call 000.
"I couldn't move away, I couldn't move at all, my left leg had to support my right leg, which was stuck," she said.
"Every time I moved I felt the skin tearing."
She could feel the heat and her fair skin was burning from the summer sun.
Her mind filled with false hope when the emergency operator said she should be able to hear the sirens of an ambulance.
"She said the four-wheel drive ambulance was driving up and down the beach trying to find me but I couldn't see or hear it," Miss Austenberry said.
"I just knew I had to keep calm and still - but I didn't know if they would find me.
"I was terrified as seagulls kept coming up to me and I couldn't move."
She watched the helicopter search for her.
"I just wanted my mum," she said.
"I was starting to give up after two hours when the ambulance couldn't find me.
"I was on the phone and was now able to tell the woman they had just flown over me and then CareFlight (now LifeFlight) found me.
"Seeing the chopper finally arrive was like a miracle."
She was taken to hospital where she underwent surgery and rehabilitation.
"I had third-degree sun burns and blisters all up my side. I sometimes look at my legs and don't want to accept it.
"I'm just so thankful for the helicopter and everyone who came to help me."
To support RACQ LifeFlight's Wide Bay-Burnett community rescue helicopter, so that the service can continue its lifesaving work, please donate to their current appeal.
To donate call 1800 630 014 or visit lifeflight.org.au.