Community rallies to dramatic rescue of injured walker

NAOMI ARNOLD
Last updated 11:12 28/08/2012

Centre of NZ helicopter rescue

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A woman who broke her leg while out walking her dog near the Centre of New Zealand last night needed a community effort to help rescue her.

The 43-year-old woman, a resident of Grove St, was walking on a steep rough track down the hillside towards Grove St about 6pm when the accident happened.

Nearby, Nelson City Councillor Derek Shaw was out running with a friend when they met a woman coming up the track who thought she'd heard shouts for help and a dog barking. The trio split up and tracked the shouts and barks to the steep grassy hillside where the woman was, her leg broken just above her ankle.

"She was in quite a lot of pain," Mr Shaw said.

His companion ran to neighbour Miranda Van Dyke's house on Hardy St to call emergency services.

The injured woman directed her rescuers to a hut nearby where she knew there were pieces of wood that could be used as a splint. The pair tied the splint on to her lower leg using plastic bags and her belt to hold them in place.

"She said she felt it go and knew exactly what had happened. She was very tough; I was impressed," Mr Shaw said.

"She was more concerned about the dog than herself."

Mrs Van Dyke and her daughters arrived carrying a jacket, torches, and blankets and also brought a neighbour who was a doctor at Nelson Hospital emergency department.

The doctor contacted the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter paramedics, who were using night-vision goggles, and gave them co-ordinates to help them find the way in the dark.

Mr Shaw said the rescue party and the injured woman sat looking at the lights of the city until the helicopter arrived about 8pm.

"It was not very far away, but still a long way away if people had to get up there with stretchers," he said.

The paramedics were impressive, he said. The area was covered in pines nearby and would have required some pretty skilled pilot work to lower the paramedics down and then winch the woman into the helicopter.

"It was kind of dramatic," he said. The rescuers then carried her "spooked" dog down to the Botanics to stay at a friend's place.

Mrs Van Dyke said the woman was lucky that the runners had found her as she was quite a way off the main track.

"I don't think anyone knew she was up there and it would have been quite unpleasant for her if she'd had to stay the night."

Pilot Tim Douglas-Clifford said an advanced paramedic was winched down to the woman who was about 200 metres down from the Walter's Bluff track.

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It was the third time he knew of that the helicopter had been sent to the Centre of New Zealand Walk, Mr Douglas-Clifford said.

- Nelson

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