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Dear sir/ madam, I am writing to inform you that I had cause to utilize my res-q-me PLB on the 1st of April 2013, with the incident warranting this action happening in the Cornwallis area of the Waitakeres. I was taking a day walk with my dogs, and approx 2 hours in to my walk I discovered a day pack lying near the path. On checking around I was unable to identify any sign which would indicate an owner was nearby. On checking the pack I discovered an empty water bottle, a wallet with I.D. and a phone. The pack was cold so had obviously been there for some time. I put the pack on top of mine and continued down the path, as I was able to find no sign to indicate anything untoward had happened. On reaching the valley bottom, I came to a bridge beside which I noted a pair of trainers and at which time I picked up an unusual sound, as had my dogs, but could not see anything around.
Upon beginning to walk across the bridge I saw movement under the bridge, through the slats, and heard a definite moaning sound. I stopped to look over the bridge and found a man lying in the stream, obviously in some trouble. At that moment another tramper came down the path from the other side, asking what was wrong and then saw the man in the stream. He began walking away saying he would walk to summon help as there was no signal in the area and would likely be around 11/2 hours. Despite me trying to call him back, at that point I had not identified what and if any real problem existed, what help was required and also shouted he would need the exact grid ref points for the emergency services, but he continued away shouting back it was OK he was good at describing locations.
At that point I turned my attention to the situation and began an assessment of the casualty. It was quickly obvious he was hypothermic, had at least a head injury, was virtually unresponsive and needed urgent help. It was at that point I activated my PLB above the bridge as the only area around with clear sky views, it was 12.50hrs. Following my assessment I managed to get the man mainly out of the river, cut foliage to raise his legs above the water, put my spare jumper around him and got him in to my survival bag. Following dressing his head wound and having found no other identifiable injuries requiring treatment, I continued to monitor his physical state, trying to keep him settled and covered. Any further contact was obviously making him anxious, and with his mental and physical state I believe it would have been dangerous to attempt any other interventions.
The rescue chopper arrived at approx 14.15hrs, and following circling 2 or 3 times I was obviously not being seen through the canopy, however I managed to gain their attention by utilizing my heliograph mirror. At this point unable to find a more open area, the paramedic lined down to the bridge. Following handing over the information, and helping extricate the man from the stream, the paramedic conducted his assessment, identifying serious hypothermia as the main issue at that time requiring urgent extraction and treatment. I helped prep the man and get him secured on to the stretcher, and as the paramedic was preparing to winch the man out, the original man arrived back with a park ranger, 2 St Johns and 3 fireman. The man was winched out and the newly arrived service men and women left, leaving me and the other chap on the scene alone.
Following a brief chat during which he apologized and said he panicked and was halfway for help when it dawned on him he did not know the actual situation and should have stayed to help, even if for long enough to find out what had actually happened. We began our walk out and having gone approx 3 or 400 yards, the park ranger returned and apologized for not remaining to check if we were OK. I thanked him for returning and we continued on. As soon as we reached a hill top with a signal, approx a K from the incident (not requiring me to go all the way out to the nearest road over 45 mins away), I stopped to contact my wife and asked the ranger to continue out with the chap who was still obviously shaken. Following this I returned to my vehicle around another hour away and returned home, meal time for the boys and a well deserved cup of tea for me! I have since learned the man is in Auckland hospital in a stable condition, whatever that really means.
Thank you ACR!
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