22 Apr 2024
Hawke's Bay
HBHRT sea rescue

Jason Broome is a firefighter, surf lifesaver and fisherman. Pretty much an all-round action man - but in Jason’s words “in a single split second – my life changed from being the rescuer to desperately needing to be rescued – a situation I had never ever imagined I would be in”.

Jason’s day had started early that morning, when he headed off with his 18-year-old son Luca and best mate from the Fire service, Clem, for a days fishing out of Napier. Something that he has done many times before and when heading off into the open sea that morning there was absolutely nothing that made Jason think that his day would not go as he had planned.

They found a good place to anchor about 20km off Napier and then fished for a few hours. When it came time to head home it was Jason’s turn to pull the anchor up. As the anchor chain came up it became stuck.

Jason says “without a thought I reached forward to unjam it. The chain then caught my little finger as the winch started back up. My hand and arm were then pulled into the winch and the chain pulled my arm back behind me and snapped it. In that split second – I had an open compound fracture and my finger still jammed tight in the winch.

We quickly turned the winch off but could not release my finger. I have never been in that much pain before but was able to stay conscious through the 45 minutes it took for Clem to free me. Luca quickly called a Mayday on the radio and then called 111 who immediately dispatched the Rescue Helicopter. I have worked with the Rescue Helicopter crew many times on jobs together and when I heard the chopper arrive, then heard Cornelius’s voice on the radio – my first thought was - Thank God it is you!”

My part of the story starts when I was winched onto the Coast Guard boat where Jason had been transferred, after Clem had managed to free his arm. Jason had been stuck for a long time, and I knew that there were potentially some issues around the lack of blood flow in his arm - so we needed to move really fast.

It wasn’t until I landed on the boat that I realised it was Jason. I have worked closely with him many times; both in many rescues with the Rescue Helicopter but also in Surf Life Saving where we are both lifeguards for the Waimarama Surf Life Saving Club.

It was a hard spot to be in as I had to deal with the reality of this being someone I knew well. Jason and I have spent many hours together helping others, and in those situations, it is always hard to keep focused on the job, not the person.

There is a special bond between emergency services personnel, and if someone you know is needing help themselves, you really step it up another level. It is also a strong reminder about the reality that it could be any one of us in this situation.

Our crew winched Jason and I off the boat and he was in ED within 15 minutes, which was the very best outcome we could have met.

Today Jason is still recovering. His cast came off a few weeks ago and he is now building back strength in his arm and hand. It will probably be a while before he is back at work doing full duties – but he has his arm and it looks as if he will not lose his pinky finger, which is fantastic news.

We were able to be there for Jason because of the support that we receive from people like you. People who recognise that any day it could be you, or someone you love, a work colleague, or friend that needs our lifesaving service and so want to ensure that we are available for everyone when they need us.

My heartfelt thanks for the support you have already given us – we are very grateful and recognise that we would not be here without you and the many other people who support us with such generous and ongoing donations. You are the real hero in my opinion, as you give us the ability to do our job and save lives.

Hawke's Bay