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A rush of blood - the Miles Paterson story

Work safe. Home safe.

A rush of blood tells the story of Miles Paterson's momentary lapse of attention that resulted in his quad bike incident.

"It actually happened that quick that one minute I was sitting on the bike and the next minute I had a bike on top of me."

Miles counts himself lucky sustaining only minor injuries.

While they are a useful piece of equipment, quad bikes can be deadly when used incorrectly or in difficult terrain. They can be unstable due to their light weight and high centre of gravity, increasing the risk of a rollover on rough terrain, when turning or driving across slopes.

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FIONA: [Fiona O'Sullivan Principal Inspector, WHSQ] People talk about the quad bike injuries, often when there's been an incident someone will either get thrown off the quad bike, or the quad bike often rolls on the person. A lot of the fatalities are caused by crush injuries and it's caused by the bike coming and hitting the person, usually in the chest or neck area. The biggest misconceptions is they have four wheels so they're very stable. It's hard to put one single cause on those quad bike incidents; it can be a range of things. I'm amazed that Miles survived his incident. Not a lot of people walk away from a crush injury from a quad bike.

[Title page "A rush of blood - the  Miles Paterson story"]

MILES: [Miles Paterson, Cattleman] This particular place is just a breeding enterprise with about fourteen hundred breeders on it. A lot of it we don't run many cattle in because it's quite impregnable.

CHEZ: [Chez Paterson, Lady of the house] Miles had told me the day before that he was going to get some cattle in to send to a sale the following day. So I presumed that would be mustering, on horseback.

MILES: I went to have a look and see where the cattle were that I had to get in and I found them way at the back of where they were supposed to be. I just had my hat and jeans and shirt and boots. No helmet, no gloves, no protective gear whatsoever. I knew I should have gone and got a horse, but I continued doing what I was doing on the quad bike because I was nearly home.

CHEZ: He actually told me that one of the bulls wouldn't come in and he was having trouble with the bull and he got himself in a bit of a corner.

MILES: And I followed them down the side of a creek bank and the fence was very close to the side of the creek bank. I had to do a little three-point turn between the fence and the side of the creek bank, and I thought I was in forward but I was actually in reverse. And the cattle took off and like all people when they're moving a mob of cattle, the little blood rush goes to the head and I put the throttle on flat to take off after them and went straight over backwards over the embankment.

CHEZ: Miles' rush of blood. Determined to do his task and certainly, like most males, didn't take time to stop and think about what he was doing and it was a spur of the moment thing.

MILES:  Straight down about a ten-foot embankment. I was lying on my stomach and the bike came down and fell across the top of my shoulders. Then it rolled over a couple more times and went right to the bottom of the creek.  It actually happened that quick that one minute I was sitting on the bike and the next minute I had a bike on top of me.

MILES: I lay there for quite some time and took in some big breaths. And I knew I was fairly badly hurt. Massive pains in my chest and I thought I'd broken a couple of ribs and possibly my sternum was cracked, or something very sore in the middle of my chest. So I lay on the ground for a while and got my breath back and then wondered what a stupid thing I'd done and then decided that the only way out of there was to walk home, because nobody had any idea where I was. Dragging one foot after the other and trying to get some air into my lungs was the main issue. Just in a lot of pain and I knew that I had to get home. I think I walked on the way home about a kilometre and a bit. And it probably took me a good hour, hour and a half.  When I got back to the house I rang my wife and told her that I'd had an accident.

CHEZ: And I said Miles you really need to ring Triple 0, you need to go to the hospital. He said, no, I just thought I'd wait for you to come and tell me if you think I need to go to hospital. And I couldn't believe what he had just said.

MILES: she was actually in Toowoomba, two and a half hours away, and she wasn't coming home until the next day. So that was probably a fairly stupid thing to say. And the next thing I heard a helicopter flying overhead and the phone was ringing it's head off but there was no way I could physically get up to answer it. My neck was sore. My chest was just aching. And I think everything was aching.

Dr Allan: [Dr Allan MacKillop, Chief Medical Officer, CareFlight] Quad bike accidents are becoming a very very serious problem in Australia.  We respond to 40 quad bike accidents every year predominantly from our bases in Toowoomba on the Darling Downs, Roma in the central west and the Sunshine Coast helicopter base. The injuries are very serious, in fact, we respond to fatalities, where the bike rider has been fatally injured at the time of the accident. It's distressing …it always is.

CHEZ: We arrived at the hospital the same time the chopper landed. That was a bit of a weird feeling, seeing the chopper land and think oh my gosh, my husbands' in there.

MILES: she was there within a couple of minutes, I think. And she just told me that I was an idiot basically. They checked me out. I think I went for an x-ray or two. Then they found out there was nothing seriously, seriously broken. Just a few cracked ribs and my sternum and a lot of bruising.

CHEZ: How could he have possibly walked home that distance? He should have been dead.

MILES: After the accident, it took me, and coming back here, it took me a long time to recover.

CHEZ: I was very concerned about the long-term effects on his back and his neck. To this day he still walks with a stoop.

MILES: I could barely ride. It hurt to ride a horse. I couldn't… Yeah, there was a lot of things that really it slowed me down. It really affected my ability to carry on the things that I was supposed to do.

CHEZ: It was difficult for him to not to be out and about and physically running the property. He had to delegate a lot more.

MILES: When I first got back from the hospital to here, I sort of sat around the house a bit. Was fairly cranky and gave a lot of instructions to people.

CHEZ: So I found myself saying oh, don't worry, he's cranky but he'll get over it.

MILES: Not just me that was suffering, it was my wife was suffering and my staff.

CHEZ:  He was in a lot of pain for a very, very long time and not admitting it. I think it knocked him around a lot more than he will ever admit and it took him a very, very long time to recover.

FIONA: Quad bikes are a great tool, if they're used within their limits and within the limits of the people operating them. When Miles had his incident, and he freely speaks about this, he had the wrong vehicle for the wrong job. And that was… they just didn't match. He shouldn't have been on a quad bike where he was. He put himself in a really bad situation.

MILES: I think the accident could have been prevented from happening by doing what we do now and totally banning quad bikes in this terrain.

FIONA: We have to go right back to the beginning and look at what we're doing, what our country is like and how we're going to use it and then choose the right tool for that.

MILES: I think a bit of a problem is that we just think that these things can go anywhere so we try and take them anywhere.

FIONA: They're not made to go up great big steep cliffs. They're not made to be working in really slippery conditions. You've got to use a lot of common sense with it. If you don't feel safe and capable and doing what you're doing you feel there's a high risk that you're going to be injured, well you probably are. And that's when you should pull up.

CHEZ: I understand that quad bikes have their purpose. They are quick and they're so easy to use. But they are absolutely dangerous if you're not in full control.

FIONA: But before you even hop on a bike you really do need to be competent to ride it and I can't stress that enough.

FIONA: It's really important we start with a pair of good boots, jeans, long sleeved shirt, gloves if you feel you need them. A helmet is a must and also eye protection. Quad bikes have a limited load capacity. If you start exceeding those carrying capacities you start compromising the suspension and the ride-ability of it. You just can't steer them properly and also the brakes won't work on them properly.

MILES: when I went back to where it had happened, I looked at it and I cannot believe that I lived.

CHEZ: I think the accident has caused Miles to reassess his life. Yeah, emotionally it was certainly a big wake up call.

MILES: I think the biggest lesson I've learnt from this experience is that they're very dangerous, very, very dangerous pieces of equipment and I think they're treated far too lightly by most people. I don't think people take the time to stop and think and we're all time poor. So we just have to change our ways.

CHEZ: He's a cranky old bastard but I love every step he takes. I can't believe it

Credit screen:
The Department of Justice and the Attorney-General would like to thank Miles, Ben and Chez Paterson, Fiona O'Sullivan, Dr Allan MacKillop of CareFlight  and the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries for their assistance in making this film. Filmed on location in the South Burnett region.

RUNTIME: 8 min 45 secs