Backpacker critical from choking

A GERMAN backpacker was in a critical condition in Hervey Bay Hospital yesterday after choking on a steak.

The 34-year-old man had been camping just south of the Maheno wreck on the eastern side of Fraser Island.

On Wednesday about 7.30pm he started choking after getting the piece of meat stuck in his throat.

A paramedic on the island was called but had trouble reaching the scene because of the high tide.

The AGL Action Rescue helicopter arrived about 8pm and flew the man to Hervey Bay Hospital.

“It took about 30 or 40 minutes for the Fraser Island paramedic to reach him because of the high tide and trouble crossing Eli Creek,” pilot Dennis Branch said.

“The AGL crew arrived about 20 minutes after the island paramedic.

“The man had an extra large piece of steak stuck in his throat and was having trouble breathing.

“By the time we got there he was completely unconscious and we performed CPR.

“He still hadn’t regained consciousness when we arrived at Hervey Bay and he was on ventilators when we left him.

“He was in an extremely critical condition.

“It’s not a good prognosis for him – there may be permanent brain damage.”

AGL Action Rescue spokesman Colin Brown said it was the first adult choking case assisted by the rescue helicopter in the two-and-a-half years he had worked for the service.

“We go to Fraser Island more than 100 times in a year, mainly for car rollovers but also for things like marine stings, spinal injuries, burns and other medical conditions.

“There’s no other way for people to get to hospital quickly if they are in a serious condition, especially at night.

“We are their lifeline, really.

“A flight from Fraser Island to Hervey Bay Hospital only takes about 15 minutes and to get to specialist medical care in Brisbane only takes about 60 minutes.”

The service did 1100 missions in the last financial year, covering an area from Brisbane to Agnes Water in the north and west to the South Burnett region.

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