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Difficult rescue from mineshaft
Bendigo’s specialist mine rescue capability was put to the test on Saturday evening (April 6 2013), after an elderly man fell 35 metres down a disused mine shaft near Harcourt.
The man, aged in his 70’s, had climbed into a horizontal tunnel which led to a deep vertical shaft when he lost his footing, and plunged headfirst down the shaft before landing on a wooden platform.
Read more about the rescue in the Bendigo Advertiser.
Video via ApexImagery
CFA’s volunteer Oscar 1 Emergency Response Unit, with highly specialised rope, confined space and first aid capability, was dispatched around 6pm.
It joined crews from Chewton and Harcourt, and staff from Bendigo, as well as SES, Ambulance Victoria and Victoria Police at the scene in state forest at Golden Square.
District 2 Operations Officer Alun Hughson said it was a delicate operation in difficult conditions.
“Specialist rescue volunteers had to conduct the rescue in several stages,” Mr Hughson said.
“After reaching the man they administered first aid to some serious arm, leg and head injuries. They then had the difficult job of wrapping him in a flexible stretcher in a very narrow space.
“Once they had hauled him up to a horizontal shaft about 5 metres above, he needed to be transferred to a rigid litter stretcher. He was then dragged 70 metres horizontally out of the tunnel.”
Once outside the patient was carried back to the top of the hill where MICA paramedics from Ambulance Victoria stabilised the man’s injuries.
He was then driven by four when drive to a road ambulance before being transferred to a helicopter for transport to Melbourne, around 2 hours after his ordeal began.
OO Hughson said it was a textbook rescue which involved close cooperation between emergency services.
“It was wonderful to see how the 4 emergency service agencies worked together with volunteers and staff working side by side.”
He warned it was timely reminder to visitors to parks and forests in Central Victoria to be aware the area is littered with disused mineshafts.
“Not many people survive such a long fall. It goes without saying this man was extremely lucky,” he said.
Oscar 1 Emergency Response Unit was formed a little over a decade ago and is made up of volunteers from around the Bendigo Region.
Many members have worked in the mining industry and must complete significant training including rope rescue, confined space rescue and level 3 first aid.