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After three days horse trekking in the Marlborough high country, me and my husband, Eric were loading our horses on the float for the homeward journey. Eric’s horse, Copper, was a bit wound up and nervous going onto the float so I was trying to secure the barrier arm behind him as quickly as possible but it is a tricky apparatus at the best of times. Suddenly Copper couldn’t cope any more and he came bursting backwards out of the float and through the barrier arm in a bit of a panic. I tried to dodge him but he knocked me off my feet and stood on my lower leg before springing forward again and off to the side away from me. I felt my leg break, horrendous pain in my ankle and the weird sensation of my foot being at an odd angle to my leg.
As I lay on the ground trying to breathe through the pain, Eric and our trekking friends ran about fetching blankets to put on me and assessing my injuries. Eric had the ACR beacon and asked me, “should I set it off?”. “YES” I replied, as the alternative would mean someone unhitching their horse float and driving off to find a landline to use. We were on a remote high country station so, of course, cell phone coverage was zero. It was a relief to me and the others to see the beacon was working and to know help had been alerted.
During my wait for the Westpac rescue helicopter to arrive, my friends did a great job of keeping me calm and helping me breathe through the bad waves of pain. I was in shock and every now and then would start shaking uncontrollably which would aggravate the sensations in my leg and increase the pain. Luckily I only had to wait for an hour and a half before the chopper arrived and soon the paramedic was there administering Morphine and checking out my injuries. Once the pain relief kicked in they removed my boot revealing a badly dislocated ankle, so foot security was applied before I was transferred on a stretcher into the chopper.
As I flew into Blenheim (the nearest hospital), I felt so relieved I didn’t have to brave a 2 hour journey by bumpy gravel road and was very grateful for the rescue helicopter and of course, our locator beacon. Once I was admitted to hospital I was X-rayed to find my ankle was broken in 2 places as well as dislocated and my fibula was broken in 2 places and my foot in 3 metatarsal bones as well. A right old mess! My ankle was relocated immediately but I had to wait for two days for the swelling to go down so I could have an operation to put three screws in my ankle. Two days after that I went home ready for a long recovery.
In hind sight, I am so pleased we bought a locator beacon several years ago and that we set it off that day rather than wasting time trying to head off and find a phone. I have been told that time was of the essence, since due to the severity of the dislocation I could have lost my foot! I also learnt that not only should you take a beacon on such trips but it pays to keep it close at hand and for everyone in the party to know where it is. I’m glad I wasn’t alone that day.
Thank you ACR.
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