One day, at the end of 2010, I happened to be outside walking by the reception area when I saw a recreational fishing boat coming in close by the jetty and hugging the beach. I wondered what they were doing and stood and watched them. As the boat headed around to our side of the island someone on board spotted me and started to wave. I waved back, surprised at their friendliness.
As the boat came around further I looked through the binoculars I had with me and on board the boat I could see someone lying across the boat’s seats. Something wasn’t right.
I walked down to the boat as a couple of the fisherpeople dragged it into the shallows. One of them pointed to his friend in the boat who was wearing a wet suit and was the one I’d seen lying over the seats; “He’s been stung by a crayfish….”
Then realising he wasn’t making sense, he shook his head. (Everyone was clearly in a state of shock). “I mean we were crayfishing and he was hit by a stingray’s tail.”
I ascertained they’d already called for a Rescue helicopter, and they confirmed they were at the right island to meet the helicopter, so it was just a case of waiting for help to arrive. They pulled the injured guy out of the boat – he was deathly pale and obviously in a lot of pain. He’d stripped off the top of his wet suit and was clutching his bleeding groin in agony as he slumped down on the sand. The barb of the stingray had flicked up as he swam over it and entered at the bottom of his abdomen, tearing through two layers of wetsuit.
I rushed back to our unit and grabbed a couple of duvets and pillows and we wrapped him in the blankets to keep him warm and comfortable.
I was thinking of Steve Irwin, who famously died from a stingray barb piercing his chest, so I was shaking, hoping this guy would be okay.
Then we heard the helicopter and it spiralled down onto the grass area in front of us (the landing pad), sending sand and dirt all over us.
The paramedics were quickly at the injured man’s side asking him about the pain and the injury. They seemed to be in no hurry – I was expecting them to grab him and leave.
They hooked him up to some morphine and kept talking. For the rest of us, it was a relief that help had arrived.
The helicopters arrival had brought Nigel down from the top of the Island.
Eventually the injured man was lifted onto a stretcher and into the helicopter. The boaties – one of whom had been standing all this time in the cold water holding on to their boat – also departed with instructions to ring the injured man’s wife.
The Rescue helicopter departed and we were left alone feeling slightly shaken.
According to later news reports, and even a story in a Woman’s magazine the man spent a few days in hospital and recovered. Phew.