Each day a gift after accident
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.