One minute Suzanne was clearing garden waste at her home in Charteris Bay and the next, after a fall from a 2-metre high trailer splitting her head wide open and breaking four bones in her neck, she was face down on the concrete with blood flowing down the driveway.


It happened in an instant but with an immediate call to 111 by her husband Shane, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter saved Suzanne’s life.


It is only with community support that the Rescue Helicopter can be there for our patients when that emergency call comes in. This support makes a very real difference in our community and helps save the lives of people like Suzanne.


Accidents and medical emergencies happen every day – please donate today so the Rescue Helicopter can be there for people like Suzanne when it matters the most.

At the outset of the pandemic response the Westpac Rescue Helicopter was directed to be ‘COVID-19 ready’ – we prepared for the worst, while of course, hoping for the best. During the lockdown, the Rescue Helicopters continued to help those in need across Canterbury and the West Coast; attending accidents, just like this one with Suzanne, and also responding to assist with a premature baby, cardiac and stroke incidents, as well as other medical emergencies.


“It has been a challenging time for all of the Crew but what has helped get us through is all of the messages of support and seeing how people in the community, despite the difficult circumstances, have put their hands up and offered support. We are all humbled by this, it has kept us going.” Rick Knight – Crew Chief


As we all know, life goes on…


With a significant drop in funding from grants, business support and community fundraising, this Chopper Appeal we urgently need to raise $195,000 to keep saving lives over the busy winter period.


Our Choppers need your help more than ever and your donation today will help save lives this winter.

Suzanne, also known in the community as Hūhana, and Shane had been gathering up the trimmed branches from a tree that was obscuring the view at their Charteris Bay home. They had nearly finished; Suzanne was on the trailer trampling down the cuttings to fit in the last few. Suddenly a branch sprang up, it must have been caught in the cage.


It happened in a flash and really could happen to any one of us out in our gardens.


At the scene, Suzanne was immediately treated as a spinal case - the local fire crew arrived first and stabilised Suzanne on a stretcher very cautiously. Intensive Care Paramedic Tatsu was concerned as Suzanne said she wasn’t feeling any pain; this was a very worrying sign as spinal injuries that involve the high C-Spine can easily be fatal - he knew she needed to get to hospital urgently.


Suzanne underwent a remarkable journey to recovery after suffering from C1 Jefferson, C2 Lateral mass, C6 spinous process and C7 burst fracture. She also needed 36 staples in her head and was in an Aspen neck and body brace for 11 weeks.


On that day all the training and experience of the Crew kicked in and a life was saved. The Crew can only save lives with the kindness and generosity of the community – this support helps the Rescue Helicopter be there for patients like Suzanne when it matters the most.


As we head in to the busy winter period, please support your local Chopper.


Please give, for those who can’t.

Suzanne visited the Rescue Base and gave the Crew one the largest chocolate cakes they had ever seen and also had another koha (a gift of gratitude), a heartfelt and beautiful waiata. While still suffering the effects of her concussion, she had toiled for a long time adapting a waiata to express a humble acknowledgement, each word full of meaning and poignancy.


There was a profound silence as Suzanne sang to the Crew and directed her recognition to them - it was a truly moving and unforgettable moment.



At this challenging moment in our country, Kiwis are stepping up to help those in need – we are incredibly grateful to have such strong community support. It is difficult to ask for support at this time and we certainly appreciate that not everyone will be in a position help. This Chopper Appeal we are sharing Suzanne’s story so we can be there for all our patients this winter, as accidents and medical emergencies happen every day, It is only with the kindness and generosity of the community that we are able to be there when it matters most. Please give today, for those who can’t.


Rest assured that even through these tumultuous times the Rescue Helicopter and Crew are always ready to respond 24/7 when someone needs urgent medical help. We will be there when it matters most, as life does go on……………..

Thank you for being a part of our life-saving missions.

We rescued 874 people

in 2020 alone

CWCART Email logo lock up 21 flat