Pensioner stranded for days

SAFE: Firefighters haul a man to safety after he fell down a steep embankment at Summerholm. Photo: Sarah Harvey IPS090211CLIF10B
SAFE: Firefighters haul a man to safety after he fell down a steep embankment at Summerholm. Photo: Sarah Harvey IPS090211CLIF10B

A SUMMERHOLM man had to be hauled to safety after spending what could have been several days stuck at the bottom of a steep embankment.

John Shaw was found disorientated but otherwise in good health when Laidley police were called in to conduct a welfare check early yesterday morning.

He had somehow fallen 10 to 15m down a rocky bank, only a short walk from the back door of his Phillip Court home, and was lying in long grass when police sounded the alarm, about 11am.

Firefighters were called in from Ipswich, Forest Hill and Laidley while paramedics climbed down the bank and checked that Mr Shaw wasn’t seriously injured.

Rescuers anchored what they called a “3:1 Z rig haulage system” to the stumps of Mr Shaw’s house, and about eight emergency services workers helped pull the middle-aged man to safety on a flexible stretcher.

He was then loaded onto an ambulance stretcher and taken to hospital for observation.

Despite the difficult conditions, the recovery only took about one hour from the time firefighters arrived.

Due to Mr Shaw’s confused state, emergency services were unable to establish how long he had spent at the bottom of the hill.

Sergeant Michelle McTaggart, from nearby Laidley police station, said a meal that had been delivered to Mr Shaw’s house on Monday was still on a bench outside the front door yesterday morning.

Blue Care, which delivers meals to the pensioner’s residence on a regular basis, raised concerns for Mr Shaw’s welfare after their staff failed to make contact with him.

“Nobody had seen him but that was not out of the ordinary, as he generally keeps to himself,” Sgt McTaggart said.

Gatton firefighter Inspector Aerron Patterson warned residents across south-east Queensland to take care around steep banks.

“The rain has caused a lot of erosion and there are mud slides everywhere at the moment,” he said.

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