We need help to save lives of babies like Tilly and Elsie.

Mothers Penny and Emily think their daughters Tilly and Elsie will be lifelong friends.  From farms in North Canterbury, they were already close but now share a deeper bond – both Tilly and Elsie were picked up by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter on consecutive nights – the 23rd and 24th of June this year, both suffering from Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV).

It was about 6pm when Penny saw that Tilly’s condition was worsening, she was breathing heavily and unable to drink her bottle; within minutes she lost consciousness.  A call to 111 activated the local ambulance and Westpac Rescue Helicopter – on arrival St John administered oxygen and drove Penny and Tilly to Culverden Rugby Club. Penny recalls the local rugby team were training and had to clear the ground so the Westpac Rescue Helicopter could land.

The very next evening Emily, an ex-NICU nurse, was realising something was really wrong with daughter Elsie who was a premature baby born at 31+6 weeks but who had been thriving.  Emily saw all of the signs of distress as Elsie’s respiratory rate increased from 66 to over 100 when the ambulance arrived.  Off they went to meet the Westpac Rescue Helicopter at the Culverden Rugby Club.“You don’t realise how vulnerable you are until you need the help of the Westpac crew. Living in the country a 1 hour and 45minute ambulance ride was cut down to 30 minutes. That time is critical when it comes to wee babies and we are so grateful.”

Mothers and babies both landed safely on the rooftop helipad at the Christchurch Public Hospital – Penny and Emily both commented how surreal it felt landing on the roof, “Like something off Grey’s Anatomy” – the crew were like super heroes.

It is several months later when Penny and Emily come in to present a wonderful cake to the Crew.  Coincidentally Matt, Shane and Tatsu, their rescue crew, are on duty.  Nigel is on offshore winch training but we did save him a slice of cake!

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Two Mum's with their beautiful babies.

The crew reflect as they welcome the girls, about going to Culverden two nights in a row for two baby girls.  Emily did not realise that Penny was there with Tilly until they met in hospital – both said it was wonderful to have the support of their friend at such a difficult time.

We gather in the crew room eating cake and talking of families.  Tatsu comments that his whole perspective on ‘rescue’ changed once he had a family (he has four sons) and Shane agrees, seeing it as the most rewarding work looking after our precious babies and children.

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As we head into our peak Christmas and holiday season, we need your help. The Mission Support Crew is the best and easiest way to support the Rescue Helicopter, with a monthly gift of your choosing. Become part of our rescue family today and help keep families safe. JOIN TODAY

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