Injured farmer saves himself

Farmer James Coughlan spent eight hours in a paddock with a broken pelvis before he managed to crawl back on his bike and ride more than four kilometres for help.
Farmer James Coughlan spent eight hours in a paddock with a broken pelvis before he managed to crawl back on his bike and ride more than four kilometres for help.

LYING badly injured in a remote paddock more than four kilometres from help, farmer James Coughlan, 56, knew he would die there if he didn't get up.

He had been herding cattle at the back of his 7000 hectare property, Belgree, near Biloela when he crashed his quad bike and shattered his pelvis about 8am Monday.

“I tried yelling out for hours but the other workers were too far away to hear me,” he said from his Rockhampton Hospital bed yesterday.

“I knew they wouldn't find me for at least another 24 hours and by then I'd be dead.”

For more than eight hours he laid in agony, until he finally mustered the strength to crawl towards the quad bike and pull himself up onto it.

“I had to grit the teeth and bite in hard,” he said.

“It was do or die.”

Without food or water, the type-two diabetic knew he needed to get back to the house if he was to survive.

“My mouth was so dry, I rolled a little stone around my mouth to get the saliva going,” he said. “I worked my way around to the bike and pulled myself up by the front of my shoulders.”

Sitting side saddle, it took two-and-a-half hours to make the four kilometre trip.

By that time, it was almost dark and no-one was at the house to help him.

“I barped the horn long and loud again and again, but with all the noise going on with the work in the yards, the others couldn't hear it,” he said.

“I got in a position to pull myself up the stairs. I could feel myself starting to nearly pass out so I grabbed two pears and a mandarin from the table.”

Using a chair as a walking frame, he went to the kitchen for water, then to the couch where he phoned for an ambulance.

“Thank God for the ambos,” he said.

From there, he was taken to Biloela Hospital and later transferred to Rockhampton Hospital by the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

It's not the first time “the hazards of the job” have caused Mr Coughlan pain and injury.

About two years ago he says a cow nearly killed him.

“It kicked me in the face and I played dead til it settled down a bit.

“But then I tried to crawl under the gate, but I didn't fit under.

“The cow soon made me fit under,” he said.

Mr Coughlan has also had three ribs torn from his spine in a horse accident.

Yesterday he was full of praise for the ambulance officers and hospital staff at both Biloela and Rockhampton.

But he is already looking forward to getting back to the farm where he lives alone.

“One of my mates will look after the place while I am away, but I'll be back,” he said.

“It's my home and I'll die there. That's where I'll be buried.”

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