Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Hire boat hero saves drowning man with vacuum hose

A hire boat operator has been hailed a hero after using a vacuum cleaner hose to save a worker trapped underwater by machinery. Bluey's Boathouse owner David Thomson said the man, whose name is John, was operating an excavator when it collapsed into the water yesterday.

For almost 10 harrowing minutes Mr Thomson and the man's co-worker struggled to keep the drowning man's airways above the Mordialloc Creek surface in Melbourne, Australia. Mr Thomson said John was taking in water as he drew air, eventually losing strength and going limp.

"He was essentially drowning in front of my eyes," Mr Thomson said. "He went blue and then he became unconscious. After five minutes we could see it was futile. I was yelling out for a tube or snorkel or a funnel."

When a witness brought a vacuum cleaner hose to him, Mr Thomson blew down the tube to the submerged man. "He was able to take a few breaths," he said. "He went totally blue and lost consciousness. He went limp and that's when we got him free."

It took at least another two minutes to get the 58-year-old over the collapsed excavator to paramedics arriving at the scene. Intensive care paramedic Andrew Burns said the first crew arrived within eight minutes to treat the injured man.

"To see where he came out of, it's unbelievable that he is still alive," he said. John was taken to the Monash Medical Centre in a stable condition.

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