Ambulance crews prepare to take an injured bushwalker to hospital after The Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew arrived back in Lismore.
Ambulance crews prepare to take an injured bushwalker to hospital after The Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew arrived back in Lismore. Jay Cronan

Lost bushwalker in day of drama

IT TOOK four helicopter trips, a bumpy ride on a quad bike and a team of specialist paramedics to bring an injured bushwalker home yesterday.

For the 49-year-old Brisbane bushwalker, her 24-hour ordeal in the bush was more like a plot from anadventure film than a casual stroll through a national park.

About 2.50pm on Monday, emergency services were alerted to afemale bushwalker who had fallen more than two metres and dislocated her shoulder in the Koreelah National Park, north-west of Woodenbong.

The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter was despatched to the woman's location but it could not winch her out because of rough terrain and strong winds.

The helicopter then flew to Coffs Harbour where it picked up a team of Special Casualty Access Team (SCAT) paramedics, who were transported to the park.

A NSW Ambulance spokeswoman said the SCAT team was directed into the bush by two of the injured woman's friends, who were also bushwalking.

“The SCAT paramedics stayed with her overnight and looked after her because she had a medical condition as well as her injury,” the spokeswoman said.

The helicopter flew out to the woman's location again yesterday at 6am but faced the same problems of bad weather and difficult terrain.

After the airlift attempt failed, the rescuers and their patient began to hike out of the bush.

SES crews, who also assisted with the rescue effort, spoke to a local farmer who owned a homestead about 1km away from the woman's location.

The farmer gave the SES permission to enter the park via his property and gave them a ride in on his quad bike.

The woman was taken by emergency services to the farmer's home.

For the fourth time, the helicopter left the heli-base in Lismore and headed west to pick up the exhausted patient. She finally was offloaded from the helicopter in Lismore at about 4pm yesterday.

Despite her night sleeping rough, she told the helicopter crew her sleep was “not uncomfortable”.

“She said she had no issues with the cold,” Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter pilot Mike Sterritt said.

“She had some pain relief that would have assisted her attitude, but she was fine.

“Usually, we would not be called to an injury of that nature, however due to her location and inaccessibility, they thought it was the best way to get her out.

“The location and the strength of the wind meant it was not safe for us to go down to a level where we could winch her out.

“We had to get her to a location where we could physically land the helicopter next to her.”

What is SCAT?

The NSW Ambulance special casualty access team (SCAT) are specialist paramedics trained to provide pre-hospital care in any location. Their training includes white-water survival, navigation and caving and are totally self-sufficient.



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