Tourist has heart attack on Uluru
A man had to be rescued and flown to hospital after suffering a heart attack while climbing Uluru amid a tourism boom before the rock is closed to climbers.
The man aged in his 60s was lucky that two off-duty NSW Police officers who were also climbing the rock quickly performed CPR with a defibrillator, which revived him.
Two off-duty paramedics from Tasmania and two miners from WA on the climb also came to the man's aid on Tuesday afternoon, NT police said.
The off-duty police were also involved in the man's rescue, along with rangers, in which he was carefully moved down the steep face of the rock on a stretcher using ropes and pulleys.
He was treated at Yulara Health Centre before being flown to Alice Springs Hospital by the Royal Flying Doctor Service, and then to Adelaide for specialist heart surgery.
A Facebook post by the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park said "thank you to the amazing members of the public who assisted Park Rangers, NT Police and NT Ambulance staff with a major rescue operation on Uluru this afternoon when a visitor became very unwell around 3/4 of the way up the climb chain".
Tourism Central Australia chair Dale McIvor said that visitor numbers had risen significantly before Uluru's permanent closure to climbers in October this year.
The local Pitjantjatjara Anangu group regards the rock as a sacred site where climbing is not allowed under traditional law, but also say it is distressing for them when deaths or injuries occur.
Ms McIvor said industry operators and visitors had respected the traditional owners' wishes, with a large decrease in climbers over the last 10 to 12 years. "But I guess what's happened with the announcement (of the permanent closure) … it's created a sense of urgency particularly among the domestic Australian market," she told ABC radio.
"That is creating a bit of a blitz on the tourist numbers and a bit of growth that we wouldn't have normally seen, so we do expect there will be some small drop-off (after the closure) but we're not expecting any dramatic numbers."
People also underestimated how difficult climbing the rock was, she said, including the steep rock face at the start with only a chain to hold on to. "It is definitely something people should not be taking lightly," Ms McIvor said.
Parks Australia released a statement also thanking the off-duty emergency workers that helped.
"The park's traditional owners, Anangu, feel a responsibility to look after all visitors whilst they're on their land so when someone is injured or becomes unwell on the climb they are greatly saddened, as are all Park staff."