Thursday, February 23, 2012

Hang-glider impaled by tree branch

WOOD IN LEG: A 59-year-old man's leg is impaled with a piece of wood after a hang gliding accident at Fairhaven yesterday. 

A 59-YEAR-OLD man was impaled by a three-inch thick tree branch in a hang gliding mishap near Fairhaven yesterday.

Surgeons at Melbourne's The Alfred hospital last night removed the 60cm-long branch that pierced his leg when he struck a tree at 30km/h in bushland near the Fairhaven Surf Life Saving Club.

It took paramedics about 15 minutes to negotiate the thick scrub to get to the man, who sat beneath a tree in pain.

He was flown to The Alfred with the branch through his leg and resting against his femur shortly after 4pm, more than two hours after being impaled.

Ambulance Victoria paramedic Belinda Owsley said the man lost control of the hang glider about 2pm, crashing into the forest.

"He's seen some powerlines and diverted to avoid them," she said.

"He was travelling at 30km/h and he's struck a tree and one of the branches has penetrated his right leg just above the knee. The branch has snapped off on impact."

Ms Owsley said paramedics were forced to stabilise the man with doses of morphine and ensure the branch remained still in his leg to avoid bursting an artery.

"We had to leave it in. They (doctors) need to X-ray the leg to determine whether it's near any arteries and it's likely the surgeons will remove it," she said.

"The area of the leg it's in, there's a possibility it's close to the femoral artery, which is quite dangerous."

Ms Owsley said it was a difficult extrication for paramedics.

The man underwent emergency surgery last night and was in a stable condition when the Geelong Advertiser went to print.

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