Robert Alison is lucky for be alive – of that he is sure.
A tractor accident on a Mangakahia Valley farm during Easter 2020 was nearly the end of him.
While doing some cropping work on his tractor, the heavy roller he was towing downhill caused his front wheels to jack-knife and the tractor to roll.
Robert was thrown through the back window of the cab and catapulted into the paddock. A gash to his head could have easily gone deeper and injured his brain.
Add to the mix seven broken ribs, a smashed left shoulder blade, a punctured lung and a cut knee – Robert was lying in the paddock helpless and fast becoming dehydrated in 31 degree heat – and no-one knew he had been lying there prone for multiple hours.
That’s until Pro+Med NZ Ltd paramedic Simon Townsend and First Responder Stephanie Sole just happened to be driving past and spotted a foot beside a tree in the paddock. They parked up on Mangakahia Road and were at Robert’s side in no time. From there, the community kicked into action. A local was sent to find the nearest house and make a 111 call to request the Northland Rescue Helicopter be placed on standby given the gravity of Robert’s condition.
Within no time, one by one, Kaikohe Fire and Emergency, Police and St John had kicked into action.
“We activated GoodSAM immediately which is a phone app that sends a signal to 111 which highlights there is an emergency and gives your location,” says Simon.
“That really sped the process up of getting the various emergency services into action.
“From there the GoodSAM app identifies the nearest medical staff (Doctors, Nurses, Paramedics, among an array of Lifeline specialists like Police and others) to your location.
“Without the Chopper, Robert would have died due to his injuries – which included internal bleeding. In situations like this the community is really important. If they support the Northland Rescue Choppers, then the service can support the community.
“Accident’s like Robert’s are also a good reminder as we head into summer to get your first aid kits sorted, get some first aid training and put a plan in place to check up on people on farms. Robert’s son David was not planning to contact him until the following day and that would have been too late given he had no knowledge of the accident.”
Simon says it was actually a conversation with Chopper Ambassador, Dr Lance O’Sullivan, at Kaitaia Hospital earlier that day that prompted them to return to Whangarei via Twin Bridges.
“So for Stephanie to spot Robert’s foot as we drove past is as random as it gets,” he says.
To this day, Robert remembers nothing of the accident nor the subsequent trip in the Northland Rescue Helicopter to Whangarei Hospital for emergency treatment.
Despite his trauma, Robert has bounced back remarkably well. Chatting to him in early December 2021, he laughs when he recounts stories of the day from locals.
“Before my accident I did not think about the Northland Rescue Chopper to be honest. I am so thankful for what they do for us – and also really grateful for the care that Simon and Steph gave me. The Chopper is definitely a good cause and I have been to the base a couple of times now to meet them team and donate.”
Robert is now back on the farm daily – armed with an Emergency Locator Beacon!