On this day four years ago Warrnambool woman Judith Harper was urgently airlifted to Melbourne for life-saving brain surgery.
Calling air ambulance staff "flying angels", today she's full of gratitude as the service celebrates its 60th anniversary.
Ms Harper was experiencing just flu-like symptoms when she underwent a precautionary MRI which revealed a five-centimetre mass the size of a child's fist in her brain in 2018.
Ms Harper, along with her husband Marc, were flown to Melbourne for life-saving surgery to have the melanoma removed. She described it as nothing short of a miracle.
"It was a miracle," she said.
"Air ambulance crews do a wonderful job and they're definitely flying angels because of the success I've had. It's truly marvellous they're turning 60."
The AAV branch of Ambulance Victoria began in 1962 with just one rotary wing aircraft and one fixed-wing plane.
Now, residents including 71-year-old Ms Harper rely on a fleet of four fixed-wing planes to transport her long distances for regular chemotherapy.
"For the first two years, my husband Marc would drive me from Warrnambool to Melbourne for my treatment," she said.
"Given the long car rides and the state of my health, there was a possibility I would suffer a seizure in the car from Warrnambool to Melbourne so the fixed-wing service took over my care in December 2019.
"The fixed-wing plane now flies me monthly from Warrnambool to Essendon airport and then I'm transferred by road to hospital to have chemotherapy sessions and to undergo regular scans."
IN OTHER NEWS
Mr Harper said today was a day of celebration.
"AAV and I are both celebrating the same day," he said.
"It's an amazing service and we're so thankful. All the crews have done a wonderful job throughout COVID-19 and have all contributed to my wife's miracle.
"At the time I asked the doctors how long we would have had. They said about four days later and she would've been in a coma, so we got it in time and the way she's going now, there's no reason why with regular chemo we can't keep going strong."
From 2020-21, AAV responded to more than 7000 incidents which was nearly 1000 more than the previous year.
The fixed-wing fleet transported more than 5000 patients alone.
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