'You kept me away from death': Teen thanks paramedic
NEARLY seven months on from a life-threatening cliff fall that left teenager Connor Meldrum with a chunk of his skull missing, he's come face to face with the man who saved him.
NSW Ambulance critical care paramedic Rolly Murcott was on board the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter on March 23 when it was tasked to rescue Connor, who had fallen about 40m from a cliff face at notorious danger spot Cape Byron.
"We've been called to Cape Byron and other cliffs around the area before for rescues, so it's a well known location, but then reading through the notes (and) the information that was coming down through the 000 system, it soon became apparent that Connor was in a critical condition and we needed to get to him as quickly as possible," Mr Murcott said.
"I've being doing this for 25 years, so I've done a lot of jobs, and there's a few stand-out jobs in that career and that was one of them, and I mean that."
With Connor having sustained life-threatening head injuries, the Westpac helicopter crew battled against the incoming tide and high winds to winch the teen to safety.
"When I got to (Connor), I had grave concerns for (his) welfare... that was my immediate concern because of the significance of the fall and the position that (he was) in, so we had to work fairly quickly," Mr Murcott said.
It took 25 minutes from the time Connor was winched from the bottom of the cliff to arrive at the Gold Coast University Hospital, where his fight for life continued.
Despite sustaining traumatic head injuries and having had major surgery to help replace a chunk of his skull, Connor made it through the ordeal and on Wednesday, took the opportunity to thank the people instrumental in his rescue and recovery.
"It just (means) so much to me," Connor said.
"I was so sad when I came out (of) hospital and I was really scared that my life was gone, but everyone was really nice to me and then when I finally got to see the people who saved my life and kept me away from death, it really made me really happy."
As a "thank you" to the service, Connor and his family raised $15,000 for a "game-changing" piece of medical equipment, that will now be used to saved other lives on board the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.
"This piece of equipment is vital to our service and it really is much appreciated that Connor's family and the extended community went to the effort of raising money to gift to us to improve our clinical service and our practice, so it's really much appreciated," Mr Murcott said.
"Seeing a young man like Connor, and just talking with him, it's no deficit. He's a young, smiling man with his future ahead of him and it makes our job so much more rewarding, just seeing the end result of what we do and what we train for, and that's part of the reason that we do it.
"It just means so much to us and the extended helicopter operators at the base.
"They will see this story and they will hear about this story and they will know that that's why we do it."