Elderly man trapped in campervan for three days
An elderly man spent days trapped in his camper van after falling and becoming stuck.
It wasn't until Sunday afternoon that the man, in his 70s, was discovered by the Paeroa RV Centre chairman and emergency services were called.
He was flown to Waikato Hospital by the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter.
Paeroa fire brigade station officer Paul Jackson, who helped extricate him, said the man was found wedged between the driver and passenger seat.
It appeared the elderly man had been climbing from the front seated area into the back of the small caravan when he slipped.
"He was facing in towards the cabin of the motor home and his foot was stuck under the clutch pedal and his hip was wedged under the seat areas, so he couldn't move backwards or forwards."
Over the two days, he suffered deep wounds as he attempted to wriggle free, Jackson said.
"He couldn't physically get out."
There was no food or drink within his reach, he said.
"We had to manhandle him out of that tight gap, get him on to a backboard and out the side door. Being a big man, there wasn't much wriggle room for us in there, either.
"Residents found him. I'm not sure exactly why they took so long to find him."
Jackson said the man's camper van was parked about five to 10 metres from other residents.
"He said he'd been there two days - two very cold nights."
Residents had provided him water.
"He was drinking that when we found him.
"There are a lot of permanent residents there."
The chopper was called at 4.11pm.
Paeroa RV Centre chairman Wayne Francis found the man and called emergency services about 3.30pm.
"We hadn't seen him earlier that day, so I went and checked on him," Francis said. "Because of his age, we do regular checks – we do that here.
"I looked through the window and saw him lying on the floor, then I rang emergency services and comforted him until they arrived."
Francis said he couldn't get inside the caravan.
"I just talked to him through the door and waited with him."
Two fire engines and two ambulances arrived within minutes of calling, he said.
"I would really like to praise the work of emergency services."
Francis said the man has been a resident at the park for about two years.
Rescue helicopter intensive care paramedic Karl Taylor said the man was conscious when he was flown to hospital.
He told emergency staff he had been trapped for two nights.
"He had serious limb injuries, but was actually conscious. He said he had slipped in the cab and got himself tied up in there and just couldn't get out."
By the time Taylor arrived, the man was "very unwell".
"His injuries were quite significant to his limbs and he was cold, but otherwise he was holding it together.
"I have seen elderly people who have been on the floor or in a place for a sustained amount of time, but never in a camper van, but it does happen."
The man was flown to Waikato Hospital with multiple serious limb injuries. A hospital spokesperson said the man was in a serious condition in the hospital's high dependency unit on Monday.