The Army has been thanked for retrieving a hospital patient’s bed in the middle of the night during a bushfire crisis on Kangaroo Island, South Australia.

Six Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers members, of the 9th Combat Service Support Battalion, carried out the mission for Steven Childs, a 53-year-old farmer and father of two, who is a quadriplegic from an accident.

On January 7, Mr Childs had already relocated to Kingscote Hospital to be a safe distance from the firefront. But his empty farmhouse on the west side of Kangaroo Island was at great risk of being destroyed by an out-of-control bushfire.

Inside his home remained his high-tech medical bed worth about $25,000 that automatically adjusts his body while he sleeps. The bed was only six months old. 

If the bed had been destroyed, Mr Childs would have been stranded in a regular hospital bed and returned to a frustrating nightly routine where he would be woken up every two hours so a support worker could roll him on his side so he didn’t develop bed sores.

Mr Childs said it could have taken months to get a replacement bed.

“The Army has many ways to help people in unique situations, both practically and emotionally.”

Chaplain Derek Croser became a point of contact for Mr Childs and his support worker, Jodie Meikle, as part of the process in getting the support he needed. They worked with the Australian Defence Force’s Emergency Support Force to hatch a plan to save the bed.

“The Army are on their way” Ms Meikle said to Mr Childs.

The team of six soldiers drove across Kangaroo Island at 10pm. They hastily retrieved the bed and delivered it to Kingscote Hospital at about 1am.

“I was so happy I cried,” Ms Meikle said.

Mr Childs said he was very appreciative of the soldiers who saved his bed.

“I just can’t thank them enough” he said.

“I grow potatoes so maybe I could feed the whole Army.”

Chaplain Croser said it was great to see the bed delivered safely.

“It’s an amazing thing to be able to assist people in times of need,” Chaplain Croser said.

“The Army has many ways to help people in unique situations, both practically and emotionally.”