A near-drowning, a motor vehicle accident, a trauma injury and four medical events made up a hectic Christmas list for the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter in the week from December 19 to the early hours of Boxing Day.
Those weren’t the only rescues flown in the region over that period . . . while the Tairāwhiti team were off base a further four missions were covered by crews from partner North Island rescue helicopter services.
And the local team also flew two unreportable missions, taking the total number of completed responses flown in the region to 13 for the week.
“Our Tairāwhiti team offer an amazing service but the reality is they can’t be in two places at one time,” says Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust chair Patrick Willock.
“So we’re incredibly grateful to have back-up from out-of-region teams supported by our partner trusts under the Search and Rescue Services Ltd banner.”
The week started at 7.35am on the morning of Tuesday, December 19 when the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter responded to a medical event at Waipiro Bay, flying the patient in a critical condition to Gisborne Hospital.
Around the same time the following day they were dispatched to a medical event at Te Whare Hauora o Ngati Porou/Te Puia Springs Hospital, this time flying the patient to Gisborne Hospital in a serious condition.
Saturday was a hectic day of flying with at one point four rescue helicopters in the region at the same time.
That was due to a domino effect that started around 2pm when the Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter was called from its Hastings base to assist at the scene of a serious crash in the Waikato region.
Half-an-hour later the Eastland Rescue Helicopter was seconded to Hastings in response to a medical event, flying the patient in a serious condition to Dannevirke for handover to the rescue helicopter crew dispatched to complete the transfer to Wellington.
That took the local aircraft off-base for nearly four hours and in that period crews from partner North Island rescue helicopter services were dispatched to cover three missions in the Tairāwhiti region – an event inland from Manutuke (dispatched from Hastings 4pm, patient flown to Gisborne Hospital); one at Ruatoria (dispatched from Rotorua at 4.50pm, patient flown to Gisborne Hospital); and another at Ruatoria (dispatched from Tauranga 5.10pm, patient flown to Gisborne Hospital).
At 10.30am on Christmas Eve the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter flew to Ruatoria in response to a motor vehicle accident, and at 3pm was dispatched to Hicks Bay in response to a near drowning. Both patients were flown in stable conditions to Gisborne Hospital.
While the team were in Hicks Bay the Hastings crew returned to cover a mission to Tikitiki (dispatched 3.38pm).
On Christmas Day the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter again flew to Hicks Bay – dispatched at 3pm in response to a trauma – with the patient flown in stable condition to Gisborne Hospital.
And at 3am on Boxing Day the team was called to a medical event in Waipiro Bay, flying the patient in stable condition to Gisborne Hospital.
“It is vital to operate a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service from our Gisborne hangar but that does mean members of our team are away from their families and friends for special occasions like Christmas Day,” says Mr Willock.
“The demand is likely to be even stronger over the New Year period so, once again, we thank them for the life-saving service they offer our region every day of the year.”
CAPTION: CHRISTMAS GREY: While whanau in Gisborne were enjoying a sunny Christmas Day, members of the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter team headed to a much cloudier Hicks Bay for one of the many missions flown during the week.