For 30 years, Pat has been walking the 1.6km between his house and the bush daily, to check the water supply intake on his property. But on this day, Pat’s family insisted that he have company, and Pat’s son Luke joined him on his trek.
Pat and Luke were just 100m away from the intake when Pat grabbed a branch to pull himself up a bank. “Crack – the branch broke, and I suddenly found myself upside down, wedged between rocks,” says Pat.
Well out of mobile reception, Luke rushed back towards home and attempted to call 111 on the way. His call failed, but he did manage to call through to the house, and Pat’s wife called 111. Because of Pat’s remote location, it was clear that the rescue helicopter was needed, and the Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter was dispatched.
Luke gathered essential items before heading back to his dad, with his brother in tow. Luckily he thought to bring a blanket, a beanie, and a hot water bottle – “something that was certainly welcome,’ says Pat, as hypothermia had begun to set in.
The rescue helicopter landed and the crew walked the 600m upstream, crossing seven streams on the way.
Meanwhile, Pat’s sons busily cut a hole in the tree canopy above Pat, using a hand-held pruning saw, and Pat was prepared for winching. ‘The thought of rescuers trying to get me out by foot! Well, they would have got bits of me out,” he laughs. “Two hours to get an ambulance team here, six people to carry me over stream crossings, an ambulance into town – it would have been midnight before they got me hospitalized.”
Pat was winched up into the helicopter under the cover of darkness and flown to Palmerston North Hospital in just 13 minutes.
Pat suffered a fractured vertebra that he still feels, but that he thinks will improve with time. “I’d like to go back up to fix the water supply, but the family won’t let me,” he chuckles.