Summer Holiday Missions
The Christmas period was a busy time for the rescue helicopter crew in Canterbury and the West Coast. The Westpac Rescue Helicopter and West Coast NZCC Rescue Helicopter completed 36 callouts between the 24th December 2018 through to the 7th January 2019.
23 of those call-outs were after hours meaning the mission was completed between the hours of 5:00pm-8:00am. All in a day’s work for a 24hr rescue helicopter service!
The NZCC Rescue Helicopter crew were called out twice on Christmas day for 2 separate beacon searches to find a missing couple in the Holts Creek area. The hikers became separated in steep terrain; the crew was first dispatched around 6pm, locating the man and flying him to Greymouth in a 3-hour SAR operation. The helicopter crew was again dispatched at 10:30pm and was able to locate the man’s partner, winching her to safety before reuniting the couple in Greymouth. Gotta love a happy ending on Christmas Day.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew received two emergency dispatches on Christmas Day, the first of which came at 5:30pm to a quad bike accident in Temuka. The rescue helicopter was cancelled by road crew on the scene prior to take-off, however was later dispatched to Greta Valley shortly before 7pm for a medical retrieval. A female patient was flown to Christchurch Hospital.
The busiest day of the holiday season fell on 27th December. Canterbury’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew received 7 emergency callouts, including 2 separate Intensive Care patient transfers from Timaru Hospital to Christchurch, the transfer of a patient with possible Guillain-Barre syndrome from Kaikoura to Christchurch, and the retrieval of an unconscious farm worker in North Canterbury. Meanwhile, the Greymouth based NZCC Rescue Helicopter was tasked to 2 motor vehicle accidents in Otira and Haast, and transferred a patient from Westport to Greymouth Hospital, with that call out coming through just before midnight to round off a very busy day for the rescue helicopter service.
Night vision googles were a necessity for the crew with 10 missions over the 2 week period requiring their use. These included several inter-hospital transfers, a night winch of trampers trapped on steep terrain in Otira, and another night winch- the time to retrieve an injured quad biker.Night vision goggles are crucial to assist night rescues as after hour rescue numbers continue to increase each year.
The duration of missions varied over the holidays. The longest job took 4 hours to complete and the shortest just 20 minutes. Some of the longer missions included the transfer of a Status 1 patient from Timaru to Christchurch following a motor vehicle accident, the transfer of a 1 day old baby with hypoglycemia- again from Timaru to Christchurch.
A big thank you to our rescue crew in both Canterbury and the West Coast, and our amazing engineers who together allowed the operation to run smoothly over the holiday break.
*These statistics combine missions from both the Canterbury Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service and the West Coast NZCC Rescue Helicopter Service.