When you sit down and talk with Neil Dodds, or Dodsy as he likes to be called, you can’t help but be impressed. Impressed with his passion for his job, the deep-seated responsibility he feels for his patients, and the sense of commitment he brings to our community.
Neil comes to Gisborne from a brief stint with the New South Wales Police based in Sydney. Heavily involved in surveillance and search and rescue, Neil has spent the past 12 months with a large team of pilots, a fleet of helicopters, international training and a seemingly unlimited budget.
“But there was something about a country boy in the big city that didn’t work,” says Neil.
“I was looking for a small rural or coastal community where I could find some real job satisfaction. Somewhere I could indulge my passion for motor sport and surfing. Gisborne ticked all the right boxes.”
Neil knows all about the satisfaction of helicopter rescue work having been the pilot and base manager for the Baytrust Rescue Helicopter in Rotorua for four years. A farming and forestry town fed by a network of highways, Neil sees his experience in Rotorua as a good grounding for the types of missions he will be involved with on the East Coast.
Neil also arrives with an enthusiasm to get out amongst the community. Not only to raise the profile of the helicopter, but to educate our teens and their families with a particular focus on road safety.
“Though I’m a pilot, much of my time is spent getting out there and talking about the service, working with other emergency services and talking with teens and parents about the reality of what we see. To be honest I’d rather meet kids in school than out on the road in need of the helicopter.”
It’s that kind of change-making that attracts him to helicopter rescue work.
“It’s radically different to any other kind of flying,” he says.
“You have a huge impact on the people you deal with and invariably they have an enormous impact on you. There really is nothing quite like it.”