Gathering revellers evacuated
An emergency evacuation of more than 300 muddy people suffering from exposure to the cold and wet ended The Gathering festival on Takaka Hill yesterday.
EMT ambulance Nelson area manager Danny Fowler said it was his decision to order the evacuation and contingency plans were put in place at 3pm yesterday. [see note 1 at end of article].
No vehicle was allowed to leave with an empty seat, so that people without transport could get out, he said.
The most serious case was a man in his 30s suffering from burns who was taken to Nelson Hospital.
An emergency centre was set up at the Salvation Army hall in Motueka yesterday afternoon to provide an oasis of warmth, dry clothes and medical treatment.
A lot of people had been camping in wet tents.
This is inaccurate reporting. 300 people left The Gathering site on January 2 on buses, as they had always planned to do. We provide a bus service between both Nelson & Motueka and The Gathering site for people who do not have their own vehicles. This year, 300 people chose to use that service. They were not evacuated and the situation was never an emergency, they were simply leaving.
Danny did not order any evacuation, as this was never remotely necessary. We took 40 Gatherers suffering from mild hypothermia to Motueka Salvation Army hall where they were checked out by St John Ambulance staff, and given food and warm clothes before being taken to Nelson College for the night. We took these Gatherers off the hill BEFORE their situation became serious.