Teacher’s warning after burns drama

Carly LadenBroome Advertiser
Broome school teacher Cameron Haynes.
Camera IconBroome school teacher Cameron Haynes. Credit: Cameron Haynes, Supplied

A Broome-based schoolteacher has advised other boaties spending $300 on an EPIRB could save their lives after he suffered chemical burns when he spent more than two hours in fuel-laden water when his boat was swamped by a wave.

Cameron Haynes was pulling up craypots while on a fishing trip with his mate Corey Smith off Geraldton on December 27 when they were both thrown from the boat.

Mr Haynes, who grew up in Geraldton, said he and his friend tried getting back in their boat but it had already filled with water.

“We were sitting in the water for about 21/2 hours,” he said.

“We put our life-jackets on and fired a few flares but we did not have an EPIRB.

“I actually emptied out the fuel tank to try and use that as a floatation device for the boat but as it was being emptied, the fuel just soaked up into my shirt and so I was fighting that pain for those two hours.

“Surprisingly we both stayed pretty calm and we just kept talking to each other about what we needed to do. Looking back on it, it was weird that we were so calm even though our anchor broke off and I was shaking from the fuel.”

To pass the time and stay positive, Mr Haynes kept up the banter with his friend, even going as far as singing Burn Baby Burn.

“I don’t know why I chose to sing that particular song, it just came into my head,” he laughed.

“I was burning that much and I knew I couldn’t dwell on them so I needed to do something to take my mind off it and keep positive for the both of us.”

Chemical burns Mr Haynes suffered while waiting for help.
Camera IconChemical burns Mr Haynes suffered while waiting for help. Credit: Cameron Haynes, Supplied

After floating for 21/2 hours, the local volunteer sea rescue crew reached the pair and got them to safety.

Mr Haynes said the first thing he did once he got on their boat was take off his fishing shirt. “I was cooking in that thing,” he said.

“I was taken to Geraldton Regional Hospital to be treated for my burns and hypothermia and then I was taken to Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth.

“I thought they would just put a few dressings on me but they admitted me and stayed there overnight, so things definitely took a turn.”

He said spending a few hundred dollars on an EPIRB was a good investment for any boat user.

“If we had one that day, Sea Rescue probably would have reached us in about half an hour,” he said. “What’s $300 worth compared to your life? Just get an EPIRB.”

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