Each day a gift af­ter ac­ci­dent

Western Leader - - OUT & ABOUT - SI­MON SMITH

Ev­ery day of the past 10 years has been a gift to Ray Burgess.

A freight train flung the Auck­land courier driver’s van 50 me­tres down the tracks in Hua­pai on Oc­to­ber 12, 2007.

When his ve­hi­cle stopped som­er­sault­ing, Burgess was left trapped un­der­neath with a com­pacted spine, in­ter­nal in­juries and hot oil pour­ing down his throat.

A res­cue he­li­copter saved his life that day as am­bu­lance of­fi­cers thought he would be dead be­fore they got him to hos­pi­tal.

It was doubt­ful he would even sur­vive the flight, he said.

It’s been a long re­cov­ery ev­ery since.

The Green Bay man has learned to walk, talk, move his arms and drive again.

‘‘Be­fore that I was a swim­mer, now I can swim one to two lengths with one hand.’’

Th­ese days the 58-year-old sup­ported the Auck­land res­cue he­li­copter ev­ery chance he got.

‘‘I’d do­nate ev­ery­thing that I have got to them.’’

Burgess was one of about 60 for­mer pa­tients who turned up to the Auck­land and Coro­man­del ser­vice’s sec­ond Res­cue Re­u­nion.

The event was held at the Auck­land Res­cue He­li­copter Trust’s hangar in Me­chan­ics Bay on Novem­ber 5.

Although a pro­mo­tional af­ter­noon for the trust , it was also a chance for pa­tients to share their sto­ries, meet those who air­lifted them.

The crew also gave a winch­ing demon­stra­tion.

Pukekohe farmer Dan Col­gan, 70, needed the ser­vice when the trac­tor he was driv­ing rolled about three years ago.

He was air­lifted to hos­pi­tal in a crit­i­cal con­di­tion with ‘‘a bruised but­tock’’.

Col­gan said the ser­vice was ‘‘bloody fan­tas­tic’’, but he thought West­pac got a lot of ad­ver­tis­ing for its spon­sor­ship dol­lars.

The amount it do­nated would be ‘‘in­signif­i­cant’’ com­pared to the prof­its the bank made, he said.

Trust spokesman Lin­coln Davies said the ser­vice got 60 per cent of its fund­ing from dona­tions.

The Gov­ern­ment pro­vided the re­main­ing 40 per cent.

How much West­pac gave each year was ‘‘top se­cret’’, but was a ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant do­na­tion’’ and had been for a long time, he said.

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