A Tura Beach resident is concerned about ambulance access to a popular local beach after an incident that resulted in a man being carried by paramedics for around two kilometres on soft sand before reaching the nearest vehicle.
Dennis Leembruggen was walking back from Bournda Island to his home in Tura Beach on Thursday afternoon around 3pm when he saw a man crawling.
“At first I thought he was training for some novelty event but as I got closer I realised something was wrong,” the 79-year-old said.
Mr Leembruggen came across an 83-year-old Canberra man who was trying to pull himself back to his car at the North Tura Beach car park after a bad fall. He had a broken ankle and was experiencing rib pain.
Despite being a popular walking spot for many locals, Mr Leembruggen was unable to call triple-0 due to mobile phone reception issues. He was forced to walk around in search of a better signal before he was able to get through.
Mr Leembruggen gave the elderly man his jacket as they waited for the emergency services to arrive.
Two ambulances, one four-wheel-drive vehicle and one normal ambulance, arrived as did a local fire engine – but unfortunately they were unable to gain access to the beach.
Instead four people were forced to carry the man on a stretcher around two kilometres along the soft sand, up 26 steps and a steep slope until they reached the ambulance vehicle parked at the North Tura car park.
“I would say it was more than two and a half hours after my call that the man was placed in the ambulance,” Mr Leembruggen said.
A spokesman from NSW Ambulance said that while a helicopter is available in an emergency, it is not uncommon for a person to be carried out of a hard-to-reach location.
“The NSW ambulance fleet has helicopters and four-wheel-drive vehicles that can be despatched to retrieve patients in a remote of hard to access location and paramedics are specially trained to perform these typres of rescue operations.”
He said in an ideal world it would be good to have vehicle access to every beach but NSW ambulance understand this is not always feasible and instead recommend that anyone planning to venture into a remote location to inform friends of the local police and to carry an emergency position indication radio beacon (EPIRB).
Mr Leembruggen is hoping council can make the beach accessible for emergency vehicles, but said there also needs to be a more strategic plan in place to prevent confusion should a similar situation occur.
The injured man was taken to the South East Regional Hospital where he had surgery performed on his ankle.
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