In a dramatic rescue effort, an air ambulance paramedic signals to be winched from the sand into a hovering helicopter. G071115
A WOMAN who stumbled down a cliff face and required helicopter rescue at Harmers Haven last Thursday is lucky to have escaped more serious injury, rescuers say.
And if it weren’t for the quick thinking of Wonthaggi Fire Brigade volunteers, it might have been some time before the injured woman was even located.
Kim O’Connor from Wonthaggi Fire Brigade said initial information given to emergency services was that a person had crossed a bridge near Wreck Beach at Harmers Haven and was “hanging precariously” from a tree on the side of a cliff.
“Knowing where Wreck Beach is and the amount of sand dunes in that area, we quickly jumped on Google Maps while we were on the way in the truck and made a decision to turn and travel north instead,” Mr O’Connor explained.
Stopping at a beach car park off Viminaria Road, three CFA volunteers found the woman lying at the base of a cliff some 800 metres from Wreck Beach.
“I think she’s lucky we made a judgement based on the information we received because the tide was coming in fast,” Mr O’Connor added.
“She could have been lying there on the rocks for a long time before anyone found her.”
Paramedics, police and SES all converged on the beach where the woman was discovered soon after.
“Luckily, one of the volunteers we had with us was a student doctor, so we were also able to render some initial first aid until paramedics arrived,” Mr O’Connor added.
Wonthaggi Police Sergeant Matt Simpson said the woman had been at Wreck Beach to spread the ashes of a deceased relative and, for reasons unknown, had wandered north-west of that location to where she was found.
SES volunteers and police scoured the location for the woman’s mobile phone, which was located at the top of the cliff, along with a handbag.
It is unclear whether the woman fell through thick scrub from the top of the cliff to rocks below or stumbled partway down.
Ambulance Victoria spokesman John Mullins said the woman, who is aged in her 30s and is from the Dandenong area, suffered leg and shoulder injuries.
She was airlifted to Royal Melbourne Hospital and had to be winched from the beach due the air ambulance being unable to land in the remote area.