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Busy start to 2014 for Northland’s helicopter rescues

Northland’s dedicated rescue helicopter crew were in the air responding to emergencies and medical requests up to seven times a day in January, marking the start of a busy 2014 for the Northland Emergency Services Trust.

Its three Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopters recorded more than 100 hours of flying time from the start of the New Year until 31 January. This was up 29 per cent for the same period last year.

One of the first callouts for the year was a near drowning at an isolated Cape Reinga beach, which the crew attended and transferred the patient to Whangarei Hospital in less than two hours.

The winch was deployed four times last month, including at a long distance recovery off a fishing vessel 160 nautical miles off Taranaki which required the extra range provided by the Sikorsky helicopter.
Callouts included:

• Rushing a diver with suspected decompression sickness from Oakura to Whangarei Hospital

• Transporting a fitting/unconscious person from Paparoa to Whangarei Hospital

• Responding to a near drowning in Cape Reinga and drowning in the sand in Pataua

• Rushing a suspected meningitis victim from Pouto to Whangarei Hospital

• Responding to urgent heart concerns, including cardiac arrest and stroke victims

• Transporting a victim who fell from a horse in Mangamuka

• Attending vehicle accidents in Opongo, Russell and Motatau and a cycling accident in Kerikeri

• Patient transfers between Kaitaia, Whangarei and Auckland for treatment.

The rescue and paramedic team also undertook a number of training flights to keep the crew’s skills up to date. NEST estimates it spends approximately 100 hours undergoing training in the air each year – an essential but costly exercise.


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