Rescued from a terrible fall

If you live in Australia you may remember a news story about a young man who slipped and fell from a waterfall at Mount Glorious, west of Brisbane several weeks ago. The injured man was very badly hurt but his friend stayed with him and cared for him until help arrived. From the news report:

Inspector Hunter Nicol says he was lying face down in the water and a hiking companion jumped in and dragged him out.

“He has got severe head injuries, some leg injuries from what we can gather initially,” he said.

“He’d fallen approximately 10 metres, landing face first into water and it was only for his friend – he was able to get him out and look after him until help was able to arrive.”

Why am I blogging about a hiking incident that happened on the other side of the planet? Because Bartek, the friend who saved the injured man’s life, is my sister-in-law Suzanne’s boyfriend. Here is his story. He sent me photos but they didn’t attach properly unfortunately. Suzanne sent on the images you see here later.

Mount Glorious creek bed My friend’s name is Andrew Davison but I call him Davo at times from our school days. Suzanne tells me you would like a more comprehensive account of what happened 2 Sundays ago, so here goes.

08-falls.jpg I hadn’t seen Andrew since we climbed some of the Glass House Mountains, Queensland about 5 months ago. On this trip, he was eager to show me the Mount Glorious creek bed from Greens Falls to Love Falls (pictured). There was enough water at Love Falls for a little cool down dunk in the water before we headed up Love Creek and we got up to a pretty huge waterfall which we climbed to the top to have a better look before heading back.
Andrew climbing It was about 1:30pm and we were about an hour’s walk from the car when we where retuning through a fairly difficult portion of the creek. We had to go around a dried up water fall as it would be unsafe to try going straight up. Andrew was about 10m from the bottom of the creek bed and had reached a bit he was struggling with. I told him to grab hold of the bag strap I lowered down and to give the rock in front of him a big tug to see if it held, and then use that rock for leverage. This he did but without holding onto the bag to check the rock properly. Our worst fears were confirmed when a 6-8kg rock came straight out of the side of the ravine and Andrew fell from his hazardous perch. The rock followed him down and I believe smashed his right eye during the fall. He landed back first into about 20cm of water, knocked him unconscious, and started to sink into the water as the pool turned crimson. I flew down the side of the ravine with little thought to my safety and made it to him in about 35 seconds, apologies to the vegetation on the way!

I slid straight into the waist deep water near Andrew and put both my arms underneath his, with my left hand on his forehead to stabilize his neck, my right arm around his chest I heaved… Damn he was heavy! My underwater foothold slipped and we fell back into the water and again I heaved him up the side of the rock. As he lay there he coughed up all the water he had swallowed and started coughing and moaning. Once I got him in a stable position I checked him out. There were major lacerations to his head, possible skull fractures, a hole in his right cheek about an inch long, his right eye was mush with multiple fractures bulging out, two major lacerations on his right knee and one on his left knee. So much blood.

Having only my shirt available, I strapped his right knee to stop that bleeding and put a thick woolly sock on the head wound so he couldn’t feel all that blood flowing over him and cause him to panic even more. I pulled my mobile phone out of the bag while cradling Andrew so he would stay still and be more comfortable and called the emergency services. it took them about 5 minutes to put me in contact with emergency personnel who told me to do what I had already done; check his pulse, his breathing, see if his eyes were reacting to light and movement, ask him questions, keep him conscious and not to give him any water. He was in a really bad shape.

We had a very long wait of two hours keeping leeches, flies, mosquitoes, ticks and ants off us, keeping Andrew moaning and concious and trying to keep him warm with my blood covered body while answering phone calls to stupid ass people that couldn’t follow my directions.
“Just ask the F***ING locals!” I felt like screaming down the phone but said so politely. Finally two locals did find us and a girl of about 16 came climbing down to us like a natural. She talked to Andrew while her brother screamed to the 2 paramedics, the fireman and the police officer who had fallen well behind, “Hurry the f*** up you slow bastards. He’s down HERE!”

helicopter Thank God help was here. I told the girl to use her white shirt to wave at the helicopter at the clearing and her brother to take off his shirt so we could keep Andrew warm as he was already shivering uncontrollably. Within 20 minutes the chopper dropped off 2 more paramedics who helped to stabilize Andrew. Then it came back after another 20 minutes to drop off the stretcher and returned after 45 minutes once we had Andrew in it and had carried him down to the clearing about 20 meters away and about 15 meters below where he fell.

Anyway, Andrew was sent home today from hospital. He will have to return for at least 2 more operations to remove bone fragments from behind his eye again and for his right knee. Apart from that he is healing quickly and looks like he will be back to normal in the near future.

Thanks Bartek for sharing the story of the rescue. I think you were a hero that day and Andrew is lucky you kept your head and knew what to do. Hopefully you’ll never have to use those skills again!

Author: Donncha

Donncha Ó Caoimh is a software developer at Automattic and WordPress plugin developer. He posts photos at In Photos and can also be found on Google+ and Twitter.

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