Ian Cameron is no stranger to being in the spotlight. The former National Party politician represented the seat of Maranoa from 1980 to 1990 and was also a Tara Shire Councillor for three terms. But in more recent times, the 76-year-old has enjoyed a low profile on his 3,500 hectare property, 200 kilometres west of Toowoomba.
Ian never imagined that he would find himself suddenly and dramatically back in the spotlight. That fateful day on August 3, 2014 was like any regular day on the farm. Ian had been harvesting sorghum in an underground grain silo when the auger blocked up.
“I tried to clean out the grain with a broom, but it wasn’t long enough to clear the blockage. I got into the grain pit and managed to unclog the auger,” Ian explained.
As the auger started sucking the grain down, Ian suddenly sank deep into the pit. He desperately clung onto a pole to stop his head from going under the grain.
“In a split second, I found myself buried chest deep in grain – it was like quick sand pulling me down. My right foot was sucked into the auger, crushing my toes. I screamed out for someone to turn off the auger, but the loud machinery droned out my cries for help.
“It sounds strange, but I was more worried about the grain collapsing on top of me and suffocating, than I was of the auger mulching my toes,” he added.
As Ian waited helplessly – unable to move – the frightening realisation set in that he was trapped. “I remember thinking if I wasn’t out before dark I’d probably die here. I was really stressed.”
It was 20 excruciating minutes before Ian was discovered and the auger turned off. RACQ CareFlight Rescue, SES, Queensland Fire and QAS were all called in to help save Ian. Little did they know, it would be a marathon rescue effort to free him.
Attempts were made to hoist Ian out of the pit by securing a rope underneath his arms, however it was simply too painful as Ian’s foot was stuck under the auger. Emergency crews decided the safest way to extract Ian would be digging out the grain around him.
They used buckets to shovel out the sorghum by hand, but the grain just kept falling onto him. Manpower was eventually replaced when grain vacuuming equipment was brought in from Chinchilla.
It took eight hours to finally set Ian free. He was airlifted to the Clive Berghofer CareFlight Centre under the watchful eye of CareFlight’s Critical Care Doctor and Intensive Care Flight Paramedic before a road ambulance transported him to Toowoomba Hospital.
While Ian’s terrifying eight hour ordeal could have easily ended in tragedy, he is lucky to be alive. “There were moments when I felt like giving up, but I got through it and survived.
“I didn’t break any bones in my right foot, but the deep cuts from the auger were badly infected. I ended up losing a toe due to the lack of circulation, as I couldn’t move at all for eight hours,” he said.
“Having been a politician, I was forever helping people. You don’t think you’ll ever need the CareFlight service, but I’m glad they were there to help me.”