By BELINDA SCOTT
RESCUE workers from Lismore and Coffs Harbour joined forces to rescue a 55-year-old Sydney man after a canyoning accident at Clouds Creek, south of Nymboida, on Saturday.
The man was canyoning with four friends in the Clouds Creek ravine when he jumped 3-4 metres into the water at Clouds Creek Falls, but apparently hit an underwater ledge with one leg.
The impact broke several bones in his left leg.
The group of canyoning enthusiasts, reportedly from Sydney's eastern suburbs, set off their emergency EPIRB beacon around 3pm, then one of the men made the 90-minute climb out of the canyon and drove 20 kilometres to where he could get a signal for his mobile phone in order to call 000, before returning to the group.
A Westpac rescue helicopter from Lismore flew to the scene of the accident and winched two paramedics, Rolan Murcott and Peter Haron, down to the floor of the canyon about 6.20pm on Saturday.
Meanwhile, another two Special Casualty Access Team (SCAT) paramedics from Coffs Harbour Ambulance walked in to the remote site.
A team of three paramedics, one from Coffs Harbour and two from Lismore, remained at the site overnight with the injured man.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter pilot Dave Milne, who flew the injured man to Coffs Harbour Health Campus yesterday about 9.20am, said the Clouds Creek Falls rescue was in a tight ravine in what he described as 'tiger country', with vertical rock cliffs.
"Where we winched him out it was basically from the bottom of the waterfall, so we had to hover up the the river to get into the winching spot," Mr Milne said.
"There was about 10 feet (three metres) of clearance between the blades and each side. It was fairly tight flying."
Mr Milne said the group in the canyon had 'spent a cold night' but had managed to get a fire going.
An ambulance spokesman said the injured man's condition was serious but stable, suffering from hypothermia and a compound leg fracture, when he arrived at Coffs Harbour Health Campus yesterday morning. His condition was listed as stable at 5pm yesterday.