Offshore Fishing Boat Rescue
An emergency call comes through. The Christchurch Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew are dispatched to a serious accident on a fishing boat off the coast of Westport. Rescue Pilot Kent briefs his colleague Regan; an offshore mission requires two Pilots for safety. While the clinical crew, Mike and Kath prepare, Kent studies the weather forecast, working out how long it will take to get to Westport and the best route; and calculating the fuel requirements. When they arrive in Westport, they will need to land to re-configure the helicopter for winching and for the crew to put on their immersion suits. The crew need to get in the air and to the patient as quickly as possible. Time is of the essence.
It is a challenging mission and the crew head offshore in search of the fishing boat. There is a large swell and an easterly blowing. When the vessel is in sight, Regan instructs the ship’s Captain to steer downwind on this occasion and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter conducts a reconnaissance loop around the ship. Crewman Mike prepares the winch and runs through the pre-winch check list whilst Intensive Care Paramedic Kath gets ready to go down the wire. Pilot Regan takes the controls.
Crewman Mike gives the command to go. He has to pick the right moment to lower Kath; first by the side of the vessel as a safety precaution. She is then manoeuvred onto the ship. Helped by the ship’s crew, Kath works quickly to stabilize the patient, the ship’s Chief Engineer, who is suffering from severe chemical burns and is in a lot of pain. After treating the patient Kath positions herself back on the bow and is carefully winched back up to the Rescue Helicopter with the patient. Mike helps them inside and signals to Regan they can leave the scene.
They stop at Westport to re-configure and by this time it is confirmed they will not make it back to Christchurch Hospital. Kent works out an alternative route as the clouds descend; the drizzle starts and night approaches. After safely traversing the Southern Alps, the crew land in West Melton where they are met by an ambulance which transports the patient and Kath to Christchurch Hospital. Kent, Regan and Mike travel back to the GCH Aviation Emergency Air Centre by road. The weather has closed in further, the cloud base is very low, so it will be morning before Regan can go back and collect the Rescue Helicopter.