November 2020

13-year-old, Dale was visiting friends on their farm inland from Kaikoura, riding around the paddocks on his trail bike.  Suddenly, coming down a hill, the brakes failed and he crashed into a ditch at the bottom of the hill. He was sent flying and, as he landed, he clipped a brick that was partially buried in the ground.

Dale’s mum, Carrie, was in town at the time of the accident, and heard the emergency siren go off. Shortly after, she saw the ambulance, fire trucks and emergency doctor go passed on their way to the scene, not realising it was on its way to help her injured son. The message eventually came through to her that the helicopter was just landing at the scene, a 45 minutes drive away from where she was.

With no idea of the severity of Dale’s injuries, Carrie only just got to the scene in time to see him being loading into the helicopter. ‘It was clear from the moment they arrived, that the emergency crews had the situation under control. You felt this sense of calm confidence’ Carrie said, she had no doubt Dale was in the best hands possible.

Dale had dislocated and broken his hip, broken his femur,
his left thumb and also his right wrist in three places.


Due to the severity of Dale’s injury, and the possibility of infection setting in and causing additional complications, it was decided that it was best to transfer him by helicopter rather than the 2.5 hour road journey that it would be for the road ambulance.

To make this already surreal experience even more unique, an inquisitive highland bull came up to the helicopter and crew once they landed. It was clearly intrigued by what was going on, and not intimated in the slightest by their actions whilst helping to stabilise Dale for transfer to Christchurch.

Critical Care Paramedic, Tom, confirmed that, in Dale’s state, the ability to transfer him quickly with a 40min helicopter flight rather than the long road journey meant improving his chances at a life-saving recovery.

Dale spent 8 days in Christchurch hospital, starting in the high dependency unit. He was then transferred to Nelson hospital by our sister trust, the New Zealand Flying Doctor.

Carrie “had no idea at all that the service even existed. Within 2 hours we were transferred via ambulance and aboard the New Zealand Flying Doctor plane bound for Nelson airport for transfer to Nelson Hospital.”

Dale’s flight was one of the last to land at the old Hagley Park helipad, before the new one opened later that month.

The inquisitive bull
Photo credit: Robin McKinlay