It wasn’t the easiest start to life for baby Raiden. His mum Levi, had a challenging birth resulting in an emergency c-section, a scary experience for any first time mum. Levi and partner Scotty were relieved and overjoyed to welcome Raiden Peter Barry Bennett into the world, and like all new parents they went home to start their new life as a family full of hope.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a smooth ride with Levi having to go back into hospital in Timaru with postpartum complications. After a short stay, she was grateful to be discharged home – thinking her run of tough times must surely be over.

A few days later, Raiden wasn’t feeding properly and started vomiting. Levi knew something wasn’t right. On the advice of her midwife, she was advised to go straight to the hospital, with the midwife alerting pediatrics. Raiden needed to be flown urgently to Christchurch Hospital. There were complications, a possible twisted bowel, which can be life threatening in a newborn.

Rescue Pilot Kent and Crewman Rob got the call. First they flew and landed on the Christchurch Hospital heli pad where the neo-natal team and incubator were waiting, ready to fly down to Timaru.

At moments like this, when time really is of the essence Kent expresses the importance of having the new heli pad on the roof of the hospital rather than the complications of landing at Hagley Park.

After the short flight down the coast to Timaru, on landing the crew immediately put Levi at ease. She felt the sense of calm and confidence from the whole crew, and knew her son was in safe hands as they placed him in the incubator. The crew placed tiny earmuffs on Raiden to protect him from the noise and comforted him throughout. In that moment she counted her blessings.

The team at Christchurch hospital were prepped for Raiden’s arrival, and on landing things happened very quickly. Raiden underwent surgery for a double hernia which had caused other complications. He spent several days in ICU, but has made a full recovery to be a bubbly 8 month old – full of life.

But what’s so special about baby Raiden’s story, is the family’s intergenerational connection to the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. Three generations of the family have now been helped by the service in their critical time of need, including Levi’s own father who suffered a serious accident.

Levi is more than aware of the funding challenges the services faces, thanks to her grandfather – Paul Johnston tireless fundraising efforts in Timaru. Paul is one of our Westpac Rescue Helicopter Ambassadors, and a key local figure in the Midland District Freemasons. He’s regularly seen at the Sophia Street Carpark, collecting donations alongside his fellow Freemasons to help fund the helicopter service.

‘Ensuring this service is here for our children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren is critical’ – Paul Johnston, Westpac Rescue Ambassador (Timaru).