Bushwalker in a coma after rescue

By JANICE HARRIS

A 26-year-old Sydney bushwalker is in a coma and fighting for his life suffering from the effects of 33 degree heat at the weekend.

The man is in a critical condition in intensive care at Orange Base Hospital after he was found collapsed from dehydration on the Federal Falls walking trail near Mount Canobolas.

He was flown by ambulance helicopter to hospital after a doctor and paramedic put the man into a drug-induced coma to save his life and he was winched up to the hovering helicopter.

Orange ambulance and fire rescue initially responded to the call for help before the NSW Ambulance Service rescue helicopter was called from Orange.

However it could not land close to the him, due to the density of the bush and the paramedic and doctor walked 20 minutes to get to the man who was on the Federal Falls walking trail.

Because the Orange-based rescue helicopter doesn’t have a winch on board, a Sydney helicopter was called in to get the man out and a doctor and paramedic were lowered to the ground.

Medical manager for NSW Ambulance Retrieval Dr Karel Habig said the extreme weather conditions had overheated the man’s brain and potentially started a process where the man was going into renal failure.

Dr Habig warns the combination of heat and exercise can lead to brain damage and organ failure.

“There are variable factors and people can be affected differently, depending on how much they sweat,” he said.

“People should drink a minimum of one litre per hour when they are out in extreme temperatures and should drink before they intend to exercise,” he said.

“This patient will no doubt be kept in a coma for a few days and then gradually brought out of it to see what effects it has had on his body,” he said.

In the 24-hours to noon yesterday Orange ambulance service treated seven people in Orange for dehydration with the majority aged between 50 and 70.

“We had one patient playing lawn bowls and another playing softball and the rest were doing activities such as gardening outside in the sun,” said Orange ambulance station officer Ron Parry.

“We are really concerned that people are ignoring the messages about drinking enough water which surprises me considering the amount of publicity that is around,” he said.

Mr Parry said he was also surprised by the number of people who undertake vigorous exercise in the extreme heat of the day.

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