Stranded woman uninjured, but dehydrated, after sky-high rescue

A student paraglider walked away slightly dehydrated but otherwise unscathed after four hours stranded in a tree more than 20 metres off the ground. 

The female paraglider got stuck in a tree on Sunday after trying to land at the popular Mystic Flight Park, near Morses Creek Road. 

It was the second paraglider rescue Bright SES responded to last week. 

Bright SES controller Roy Kennedy said emergency services were called about 10.35am to assist the woman, who was stuck more than 20 metres in the air and hanging off a branch. 

“Paragliders tend to have good processes in place and training, it’s just one of those things,” he said.

“When they get into the trees it could be purely an accident, a breath of wind putting them off-course or that they don’t guide themselves in perfectly.”

Co-deputy controller Graham Gales said the woman, who was learning to fly as a part of a paragliding school group when the incident occurred, was checked by paramedics but avoided injury apart from being slightly dehydrated from being exposed in the sun for hours.

He said Bright police officers, paramedics, an arborist and an off-duty search and rescue police officer from Melbourne worked for four hours to get the woman down. 

Mr Gales said each rescue presented its own challenges but they were lucky to have the off-duty Police Search and Rescue officer on site, who was able to liaise with his team in Melbourne and assist.

“The challenge for us initially is making sure they’re secure,” he said,

“Generally they’re fairly well held in their harnesses but there’s no guarantee the tree will hold so we get a line up and anchor them off to the ground so they’re anchored securely rather than just dangling.”

Mr Gales said unfortunately with paragliding, there was an inherent risk a slight miscalculation or unexpected wind could cause trouble. 

It was a busy week for the unit, who responded to another paraglider caught in a tree on Wednesday, who was rescued uninjured in six hours.

Mr Gales said they had also responded after a mountain bike rider came off his bike suffering a suspected shoulder injury and a road crash near Tallangatta. 

“It’s been pretty hectic,” he said. “We were at this job for four hours, the one on Wednesday took six hours.”