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©2013-16 Grant Da Costa

Dramatic Helicopter Rescue - Frazer Blowhole - NSW Central Coast, 3 March 2015

Weak moaning distracted me while photographing the deep ocean gulch at Frazer Blowhole on the Central Coast of NSW. I peered over the edge of the cliff and saw what looked like the dead body of a man lying unmoving on a rough rocky ledge just above breaking wave level. Only he wasn’t dead, as the moans testified, but he sure didn’t look in good shape. He and two mates had just jumped off a notorious cliff and plummeted perhaps 40m into the water, and in the process this guy injured himself and nearly drowned.

Before long the place was crawling with police and emergency services (left) including ambulance, fire, and volunteer rescue. But it was left to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter to effect the three hour rescue. First step was for a chopper crew member to winch in with a paramedic (below).

The stiff north-easterly sea breeze was sheering over the tops of the cliffs but barely entering the gulch, so that the chopper pilot had to be constantly alert. Despite this, landing of the team was beautifully executed (right).

The photo (left) was taken just after Brock (standing) had dragged his mate out of the water. The tide was coming in and waves were threatening to wash over the injured man. As you can see from the photo (below), this is an extremely hazardous area and injuries and deaths of rock fisherman and foolish jumpers are a regular occurrence. At this point in time, Brock has left his mate, swum out of the gulch and returned to the cliff-top car park, from where the ambulance was called.

The chopper was called in again, this time to winch out Brock accompanied by the chopper crew member (left & below). After Brock had been safely deposited on the end of Snapper Point, the chopper returned and winched the crew member back onto the rock to assist with extracting the victim.



The paramedic assessed the man’s injuries (left) and as a result called for a doctor and stretcher to be winched in. This the helicopter did, again depositing both perfectly onto the precarious rock platform.

The doctor and paramedic worked for about an hour, bandaging wounds, getting a drip going, fitting neck and back braces and stabilizing the man’s condition. As shadows were creeping close and waves began breaking over the victim, the rescuers finally got him into the stretcher ready for evacuation (right).