FOREVER GRATEFUL AFTER TONGARIRO FALL | Philips Search and Rescue Trust

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FOREVER GRATEFUL AFTER TONGARIRO FALL

On August 26th last year, the Bowron family from Wellington set out in Tongariro National Park to explore the northern circuit. Srey, her husband Tim and their two boys Oscar and Leo were staying at Waihohonu Hut.

That night six-year-old Oscar accidentally slipped on the hut’s icy deck surface. Oscar was in immense pain and struggled to move. Although Srey and Tim had a personal locator beacon, they assumed it could only be activated in life or death emergencies, not realising their situation was important.

The 90-minute trek in the dark carrying Oscar to their distant vehicle to get medical care seemed unwise, so the family decided to stay in the warmth of the hut. Srey settled Oscar and tried to keep him comfortable through the night, although he had mild pain relief, the agony persisted.

The next morning Oscar’s dad Tim prepared to set out carrying Oscar the 90 minutes to their vehicle to drive his brave boy to the nearest medical facility. Two DOC Rangers visiting the hut saw the family with an injured Oscar and offered to radio for help. Within minutes 111 had dispatched urgent assistance and Greenlea Rescue Helicopter was on its way.

When the helicopter arrived Oscar’s mobility had declined and the pain escalated. Greenlea Rescue Helicopter Pilot Nat, Crewman Mark, and Intensive Care Paramedic Rob were all hands on deck, they put Oscar’s leg in a splint and sedated him for the flight to Rotorua Hospital. ICP Rob suspected Oscar had broken his femur, later an x-ray confirmed this was spot on.

While his Dad drove two hours to Rotorua Hospital, Oscar had already landed, seen a Fracture Specialist and was being prepared for urgent surgery.

Brave Oscar had suffered a spiral fracture and broken his femur, the largest and one of the strongest bones in the human body. During surgery, a steel rod was screwed into Oscar’s femur to support the bone as it healed. Oscar spent the night in Rotorua Hospital’s ICU, then was moved to the Children’s Ward for the week.

Over the following weeks at home, supported by a walking frame, Oscar gradually regained mobility. Four months after the accident Oscar and his family even managed an overnight tramp. The steel rod in Oscar’s thigh is a stark reminder of his ordeal. Although Oscar says his scar ‘tickles’ sometimes, he barely notices the serious impact the innocent slip had on his body.  The rod from Oscar’s thigh will be removed later this year.

Srey expressed the incredible relief felt when she saw the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter that day in August. To commemorate Oscar’s courage during his ordeal, his parents gave him a Greenlea Rescue Helicopter replica for Christmas. Last month Oscar and his family even called into the hangar to thank the team in person.

“NAT, BONDY, AND ROB ARE A GREAT TEAM OF FUN GUYS WITH GREAT PERSONALITIES WHO GENUINELY LOVE THEIR WORK. IT WAS AWESOME TO MEET THEM AGAIN WHEN WE WEREN’T UNDER STRESS AND OSCAR WASN’T IN PAIN.” – Sery

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