Thursday, 28 June 2012

The drama unfolds: images of the helicopter evacuation

This post is a follow-up to my post about our walk yesterday that got a little exciting at the end.  I have decided that it is useful to have a record of the event, but being concerned to protect privacy I have obfuscated people's faces in the following set of pictures.

When I initially contacted 000 (on my mobile phone) there was some confusion about where we were: their first match with "Red Rocks Gorge" was Jindabyne - about 135km SW of our location - and then Shoalhaven - about 150km NE.  Once we had that sorted they put me on to the ACT people and we soon had things happening.  After some discussion about exactly where we were and how to get an ambulance in I got another call from Craig, a pilot with Southcare.  He seemed quite familiar with where we were and asked if we had distinctive clothing.  I said no, generally drab!

Then I realised I was wearing a red skivvy under my jacket so rang him back to tell him to look for that.  He suggested I wave when they came and said that he might do a bit of circling to work out a strategy so not to worry if they seemed to fly away again! This stage is summarised in the next two images.

The selected landing site was just over a hill, so aerial forestry was not as prevalent as this image suggests!
 The medical staff get out while the blades are still turning.  Presumably the motors need to wind down slowly.
The staff soon got to work on "Dorothy".  (I stress that I have obfuscated the faces for privacy reasons: this is not a reunion of the Marcel Marceau or Heath Ledger fan clubs!)  The green item is an inhaler filled with analgesic: we hadn't taken "Dorothy"'s boot off (correct procedure) and when the crew did it became very painful, so the green whistle was just the ticket.
A small hurdle to overcome was the step-through in the gate.
A couple of us took on the sherpa role.  I found I could handle a backpack with 15kgs of pharmaceuticals quite easily (although I climbed over the gate rather than going through the gap).  In some places we have been such experience could open up job opportunities!
Nearly there!

The crew even helped remove my load.  It turns out to have been a bit heavier than needed, as my wetbag (being waved in the first image) had been left lying around and been tidied away.
Off goes the chopper.  (As the crew said it took longer to get ready for the flight than the flight was going to take.) The downdraft is very evident in this image if the grass is looked at.  I'd estimate we were 50m away and it was a good strong breeze - we'd been advised not to stand under any trees with dead branches since they can get blown off.
The post finishes with a HUGE bouquet to the team from Southcare.

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