In­jured farmer could not call for help

Shepparton News - Country News - - INTERNATIONAL DAIRY WEEK 2018 -

Tocumwal cat­tle and sheep farmer An­drew Fresh­wa­ter says a lack of re­li­able mo­bile phone cov­er­age on his farm could have cost him his life.

With two bro­ken legs and other in­juries fol­low­ing an on-farm ac­ci­dent on Jan­uary 4, Mr Fresh­wa­ter said he was left stranded and in pain when he did not have enough ser­vice cov­er­age to even call 000.

He was stand­ing on top of a silage feed-out wagon at his farm on Tay­lors Rd when springs hold­ing bar­rels of hay gave way and pushed him off. He fell al­most 4 m to the ground.

It was an hour be­fore he was dis­cov­ered by his wife, who rushed him to Tocumwal Hospi­tal.

He was then trans­ferred to Shep­par­ton and later a Mel­bourne hospi­tal where he was treated for the in­juries and de­hy­dra­tion.

Mr Fresh­wa­ter, who is still in Mel­bourne, said his in­juries re­quired surgery and he would now have re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion to ‘‘learn how to walk again’’.

He does not ex­pect to be able to re­turn home for an­other two months.

Mr Fresh­wa­ter said while the in­juries were se­vere, the big­gest ‘pain’ was try­ing to flag the is­sue with his ser­vice provider, Tel­stra.

‘‘My phone only had one bar of 4G ser­vice (when I fell), which means noth­ing,’’ he said.

‘‘You should be able to have ac­cess to ba­sic emer­gency ser­vices like triple zero.

‘‘I pay $150 for my plan and 80 gi­ga­bytes of data, and we just burn right through it be­cause of our lo­ca­tion.

‘‘I’m sick and tired of these rub­bish po­lit­i­cal re­sponses I’ve re­ceived from Tel­stra talk­ing about how they’re rolling out the NBN; it’s all non­sense.

‘‘I just want a straight an­swer from Tel­stra ad­mit­ting its ser­vice is crap.

‘‘The phone tow­ers in Tocumwal are meant to have a range of 35 km, but we live 12 km from Tocumwal and have aw­ful ser­vice.’’

Mr Fresh­wa­ter said he had been cor­re­spond­ing with Tel­stra through pri­vate mes­sages on Face­book since his ac­ci­dent, but was yet to re­ceive a sat­is­fac­tory re­sponse to his con­cerns.

Tel­stra’s west­ern and north­ern Vic­to­ria re­gional man­ager Steve Tinker said all data avail­able to the com­pany in­di­cated the Tocumwal ser­vice was sat­is­fac­tory.

Farmer Maryanne Ryan also lives on Tay­lors Rd and said in the 14 years she has lived there with her hus­band Mark and their fam­ily, they had never had re­li­able re­cep­tion, even af­ter in­stalling sig­nal boost­ers.

‘‘It’s a re­ally bad area. It’s so hit and miss,’’ she said.

‘‘If some­thing goes wrong you re­ally need to be able to call for help.’’

Black spot pain . . . An­drew Fresh­wa­ter is still re­cov­er­ing from an on-farm ac­ci­dent in which both his legs were bro­ken, but he was un­able to phone for help.

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