I remember one day in December 2015 when I did the Tongariro Crossing with a friend. We also wanted to conquer the Tongariro Peak and just before we reached the top we run into a young German couple where she just broke her leg minutes before falling. I ended up calling the Greenlea Helicopter. It arrived after 20 minutes.
While they were treating the patient me and my friend took the injured lady’s boyfriend down the mountain. On the way down unfortunately my friend fell and broke her right arm. That was me calling the helicopter a second time within the hour.
My friend was in awful pain, I remember that the helicopter had to land on the way to Rotorua for her to have pain treatment administered. Both girls received surgery the same night. While none of this was a life threatening event, it does show that a Taupo based helicopter really is not a bad idea just for its short response time.
We were lucky that day as the weather conditions were good, however a similar scenario in cooler conditions could quickly lead to significant hypothermia.
On 18th October 2005, I was forced to land due to serious engine vibration, on SH approx’ half way between Taupo and Turangi, whilst flying my aircraft with one passenger.
In the process of the landing, the right wing of my aircraft collided with a roadside power transformer, resulting in the wing being torn off and the fuel within the wing being spilled which then ignited.
My passenger and I vacated the burning aircraft and headed for the lake. We were stopped short of jumping into the lake by a gentleman whom was watering his lawn - this was a life-saving action on his behalf.
Within minutes of my ‘landing,’ the Rescue Helicopter landed adjacent to the crash site. We were airlifted to Waikato hospital where overnight I was assessed as having 36% thirddegree burns and was subsequently helicoptered to Middlemore hospital and put into intensive care for 6 weeks followed by further months in the National Burns Unit.
Over a period of several years I have received on-going grafts, etc., and have survived the event.
Without a shadow of doubt in my mind, the speedy arrival of the Taupo Rescue helicopter and the care given by the crew of that helicopter, certainly was prominent in the beginning of the recovering process. An attending doctor whom was fishing near the crash site, thought that I would not survive the event and ‘prepared’ my wife for my probable demise.
As with most traumatic accidents, the speedy action in getting the victim to hospital care, is paramount. The ‘first hour’ is essential in assisting towards survival.
The removal of basing a permanent helicopter in Taupo will, certainly in my mind, contribute to loss of life. Taupo is central to a vast area of people catchment and an extra 40 to 50 minutes from any other helicopter base to attend any accident in the Taupo area will be causal in eliminating that essential ‘first hour’ scenario.
Is a life worth it? If it was you, would it change your mind? I am firm in my mind that a permanent base of rescue helicopter in Taupo is essential and will be life-saving.
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Greenlea Rescue Helicopter.