It’s not every day that you are dispatched to retrieve a person hanging from a tree. Not to mention one that has been entangled since the previous afternoon.
But for Stuart Mill, Carapooee and St Arnaud brigade members, that is exactly what they encountered at Teddington Reservoir camping area on the morning of Thursday, 30 March.
In a multi-agency rescue alongside St Arnaud SES and Fire Rescue Victoria’s (FRV) High Angle Rescue speciality teams from Ballarat and Lucas, CFA crews arrived at 11.25am to discover a conscious man hanging by a rope from his feet approximately three metres above the ground after having got stuck while climbing a tree.
Deemed a complex rescue from initial reports from CFA Commander Tony Miles, the biggest concern was the probability the man was suffering from suspension trauma.
“If immediately cut down, there was a strong likelihood he could go into cardiac arrest due to the build-up of toxins in his body, much like crush syndrome,” he said.
“Fortunately, Ambulance Victoria and HEMS paramedics identified this risk early and were able to start stabilising him as the rescue teams arrived on scene.”
As Incident Controller, Commander Miles formed a vehicle staging area in a carpark just 400m from the man in a remote area of bush, not far from a walking path. Given the time-critical nature of the incident, Victoria Police search and rescue squad was mobile in the Police Airwing and an incident management team was established when all teams arrived. CFA crew members assisted rescue teams by ferrying specialist equipment into the scene.
Commander Miles liaised directly with the agency heads on scene and briefed operations to develop a rescue plan with the Sector Commander.
“The rescue was performed quickly and professionally by FRV with assistance from CFA and SES crews,” he said.
“However, once the male was removed from the tree there was still significant work required to get him to the helicopter some 300m away through dense scrub and mud.
“All services provided lifting and carrying capacity to ease the load and make it as smooth as possible for the patient."
The man was lowered and handed over to Ambulance Victoria at 1.14pm and was then transported to hospital via HEMS paramedics.
Afterwards, a debrief was conducted by all services on scene and CFA’s individual debrief determined the right action was tken by not rushing to cut the man down.
“The teamwork, open communication and liaison between all services on scene was exceptional,” Commander Miles said.
“As a result, the patient was provided with the best possible chance for a good outcome.
“The rescue was unique, in a challenging environment, with challenging conditions, but was a great example of a multi-agency response providing a great result to the community.”
- The tree the man was hanging from