Rescuers reveal how they risked their lives to save teenager
A YOUNG man clung desperately to a steep cliff at Cunningham's Gap for more than five hours yesterday as emergency services risked their lives to airlift him to safety.
The teenager fell over 20 meters from the Mount Mitchell hiking track after he lost his footing around 7am Friday.
Queensland Ambulance Service paramedics, Queensland Fire and Emergency Services personnel and SES volunteers worked with RACQ LifeFlight to rescue the teen.
A spokeswoman from RACQ LifeFlight Rescue said the chopper was called to the scene at 8am, where they first attempted to winch a flight paramedic down to where the man was stuck, but the terrain was simply too dangerous.
"There was nowhere he could be safely inserted," she said.
"It was determined the teen had to be moved to safer ground before he could be winched."
Aircrew officer Eddie Balarezo said his team was astounded that the teenager was able to stay on the perilous cliff face for so long.
The helicopter then picked up two Queensland Fire and Emergency Service firefighters trained in vertical rescue from a nearby helipad.
According to Mr Balazero, these firefighters put their lives on the line to try to rescue the teenager.
"It was very intense," he said.
They were winched down to a small landing above the fallen young man, where they managed to successfully maneuver him to the peak of the mountain where he could be winched to safety.
In the meantime, the helicopter returned to Toowoomba to refuel.
The RACQ spokeswoman said even at the summit, the location was incredibly challenging, with only two metres of ground surface and steep rock on either side.
"There was not much room for error, that's for sure," Mr Balazero said.
A paramedic was lowered to the scene to secure the boy, and after ensuring he was in a stable condition, he was successfully airlifted to Toowoomba Hospital.
The teenager is being treated for lower leg injuries.