'It was a pretty gutsy thing'

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 18/01/2014
Wreys Bush
NICOLE GOURLEY/Fairfax NZ

LIFE SAVERS: Emergency services and a helicopter attend the scene of a motorbike crash on a dairy farm near Wreys Bush yesterday.

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A man whose leg was ripped open in a motorbike crash kept himself alive until help arrived by applying a tourniquet to his injury.

The man suffered a serious leg injury when he was involved in a "huge head-on collision" with another motorbike about 1.30pm on a dairy farm at Wreys Bush, near Winton, yesterday.

He was flown to Dunedin Hospital in what an ambulance spokeswoman said was a serious condition.

The type of injury suffered by the man had the potential to lead to a significant amount of blood loss and result in the patient bleeding out, she said.

Emergency services at the scene described the man as having considerable bleeding after he broke a femur (thigh bone), but the injury was not believed to be life threatening.

The woman, in her 20s, was flown to Southland Hospital with moderate injuries.

Ohai volunteer fire brigade chief John Hogg, one of the first on the scene, said the 35-year-old man's actions had probably saved his life.

"He had an open wound and was bleeding pretty badly and without the pressure of the tourniquet or if he had passed out, it may have been a different story," Mr Hogg said. "It was a pretty gutsy thing he did."

The man told firefighters he had previously completed a St John first aid course.

"That's what probably helped keep him alive," Mr Hogg said.

Judging by the amount of damage to the two motorbikes and to the two riders it was an "absolutely huge collision".

After the crash, the man dragged himself off the farm road and stemmed the bleeding by making the tourniquet. The man also had a possible fractured kneecap, Mr Hogg said.

Mr Hogg said the man's knowledge of first aid proved its worth and highlighted how important it was for people living in rural areas to have some first aid skills.

"This guy kept himself alive in an area where help can take a wee while to arrive," he said.

The brigade, an ambulance and police from Winton and two helicopters - one from Te Anau and one from Dunedin - attended the crash.

Mr Hogg said it was unclear exactly how the crash happened but the howling winds, which made stabilising the injured man difficult and tested the helicopter pilots' skills, may have been a factor.

Senior Sergeant Maggie Windle, of Invercargill, said police were making inquiries and working with WorkSafe New Zealand.

A WorkSafe New Zealand spokesman confirmed the agency had been notified and was making initial inquiries.

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