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Canyoner falls ten meters and is airlifted to safety

Maritime NZ’s Rescue Coordination Centre NZ (RCCNZ) received an SOS alert at 2.20pm today from a canyoning party of ten in the Coromandel Forest Park. The beacon was registered to a local canyoning company.

One of the ten canyoners had fallen approximately 10 metres and has suspected spinal injuries.

Conditions this afternoon were not safe for the Auckland Westpac Helicopter to land, due to strong winds. RCCNZ worked with a LandSAR team to organise a rope rescue to carry the person out by stretcher. The LandSAR team have subsequently been stood down.

Senior Search and Rescue Officer from RCCNZ, Mike Roberts said, “the weather has since moderated and a rescue helicopter from Hamilton was able to land at 7.30pm. Two paramedics were winched down to the patient, and after assessment the patient was winched back out. The patient was reported to be Status 3 (moderate injury) and was transported to Waikato Hospital.

“This group did the right thing and organised a beacon to take with them on this trip. It allowed us to respond immediately and locate them quickly.”

The people in the canyoning group have assisted the helicopter crew with a short stretcher carry of the injured person.

RCCNZ is a division of Maritime NZ and is responsible for coordinating land, sea and air, search and rescue. It coordinates:

• maritime and aviation search and rescue missions within New Zealand’s search and rescue region (30 million square kilometres)
• initial action for search and rescue operations arising from someone activating a distress beacon.

These incidents are termed ‘Category II’ incidents. RCCNZ also assists with other rescues when required and provides search and rescue (SAR) services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

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