Visitors overwhelmed by help
Brian Johnson-Thomas' visit to New Zealand has left him bruised, battered and more than a bit broken, but he and his wife Marie say their admiration for the country has only increased.
The British couple's New Zealand campervan holiday took a nasty turn on a bush walk near Murchison last month when Mr Johnson-Thomas suffered multiple injuries in a fall.
But they say the continuing care and kindness they have been shown in the aftermath of the accident has left them deeply appreciative.
Mr Johnson-Thomas, who works for the United Nations as a weapons expert, fell three to four metres off a cliff on to his head during the ill-fated walk on September 25.
He does not remember how it happened, but recounted his injuries: 12 broken ribs, a collapsed lung, a compression fracture in his spine, and a "dented sense of humour".
Mrs Johnson-Thomas said the situation appeared grim when she reached her husband.
"I thought he was dead, but he was just unconscious. I put him in the recovery position and tried to stem the blood."
A young couple who were in the area quickly ran to help, while another pair of passersby called an ambulance. St John Ambulance officers summoned a rescue helicopter, which took Mr Johnson-Thomas to Nelson Hospital.
Mrs Johnson-Thomas was "deeply impressed" with how the community rallied to help.
"It wasn't just the hospital care, it was the emotional care. It was just amazing."
Two of the strangers who had administered emergency first aid to her husband drove the campervan to the Murchison police station, after which a Murchison policeman took Mrs Johnson-Thomas as far as the Wakefield station. A Wakefield policeman drove her to Nelson Hospital from there.
The extra support did not end at the hospital - a nurse offered to let Mrs Johnson-Thomas stay at her home, and showed her around the Nelson area while Mr Johnson-Thomas remained in hospital.
He entered intensive care on September 25 and stayed there for a week before being transferred to a standard ward. He left the hospital last Wednesday.
The couple do not know when he will be well enough to travel home, but are staying in a Nelson hotel while he recovers.
Mrs Johnson-Thomas said she and her husband had received many more acts of "extreme kindness" during his recovery, and appreciated each one.
"It has gone on and on and on, and I must say that I've never experienced such kindness in my life. My husband works in war zones and we've really seen a lot of grot in our lives, but this has been wonderful."
We would be grateful if, through you, we could express our heartfelt thanks to the many people who together succeeded in saving my husband’s life.
He fell and sustained serious injuries near Murchison some three weeks ago and was taken by helicopter to Nelson Hospital where he spent the next fortnight.
We will always be grateful to the following people: Debbie and three other people who stayed with my husband and gave first aid where he fell.
Constable Willy Squires of Murchison police station who was at the scene and who later drove me to Wakefield police station, Constable Marty Tutton who then drove me the rest of the way to Nelson Hospital and stayed with me, the emergency department of Nelson Hospital, especially Dr Mark Reeves, Nurse Sue Lush and her husband, social worker Debbie Holborn and everyone else in that department who cared for us.
In the intensive care department we are especially grateful to nurse in charge Robyn Price and her husband ‘‘Scottie’’, Dr S Mitchell, his wife Jane and family and also Dr Sarah Sanderson; all the nursing staff of Ward 10 and especially also Altrusa House who gave me a home and much support.
We have so many people to still thank including Earthbloom Flowers and the Quality Inn; they are all representative of the loving care which we have received from the people of Nelson.
Brian and Marie Johnson-Thomas
- © Fairfax NZ News