Electricity Rescue Helicopter annual appeal has started

The Electricity Rescue Helicopter annual appeal has started with envelopes being delivered to Northland homes. Northpower has been on board as principal sponsor since NEST's inception more than two decades ago. Top Energy is also a major supporter of the service.

People can donate to the 2012 Electricity Rescue Helicopter Appeal in three ways: Return your freepost official donation envelope; donate at any Northland ASB branch or make an internet donation to ERH Appeal: ASB 12 3106 0046000 00. Those who donate $5 or more will be in to win one of 30 helicopter rides.

Three people told their stories of survival to support the 2012 Northland Emergency Services Trust (NEST) appeal.

Ryona Winwood

Ryona Winwood, 10, is still celebrating coming second in her school cross-country and third in her interschool competition - achievements made more meaningful since her run-in with a ranch-slider door during a game of tag.

It was a beautiful spring Saturday in Paihia, September 2008, and Ryona was celebrating at her best friend's birthday party down the road.

Ryona's mum Sparta needed to return to work and agreed to let her daughter stay with her friends a little longer, as they planned to collect shells along the Waitangi River. Half an hour later, Sparta received a call telling her Ryona had been in a serious accident. The caller was too upset to provide more detail.

Arriving to see her daughter lying on their friend's deck covered in blood and surrounded by concerned onlookers was terrifying. Ryona had run through a ranch-slider at top speed during a game of tag.

St John attended and determined about 50 per cent of Ryona's muscles, tendons and ligaments were severed in both legs. She also had a mix of deeper cuts and countless grazes all from broken glass, as well as a cut artery in her forehead just above the bridge of her nose.

Although she was just 6 years old at the time, Ryona was brave and tried to reassure her mother everything would be okay.

St John made the decision to transfer Ryona to Whangarei Hospital, using the Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopter. After an urgent operation on her legs and forehead, Ryona returned home a week later in a wheelchair and with one leg in a cast.

She began her long road to recovery through rehabilitation and physiotherapy, which continues today.

A budding writer and winner of yet another school award, she prepared her own statement for the 2012 Northland Emergency Services Trust Appeal.

"I would like the people of Northland to show their respect to the helicopter that is a huge help in our community.

"They saved my life and one day they might save yours, so please be generous and show appreciation for life," Ryona said.


Mike Bickers

Ruawai College head boy Mike Bickers reckons he plays rugby for the social enjoyment.

But in the height of the 2012 rugby season the 18-year-old farm boy had a rapid change of heart after requiring assistance from one of Northland's Electricity Rescue Helicopters.

He'd been injured barely two minutes into a game against Kaihu. Mike was prone with a potentially serious neck injury.

"I was almost blacking out and everything went tingly from my neck down," Mike said. "I tried to get up and that didn't work so I tried to push myself off the field. I could feel my back swelling up straight away. People from the Dargaville Fire Brigade were there to help out. They directed everything and phoned the ambulance."

While people held Mike's neck to keep him still until a brace arrived, he could do little but hope there was no long term damage. A dose of morphine eased the pain but it was still a seemingly endless wait for help.

Once at Whangarei Hospital, Mike was x-rayed and initially it was feared he had a cracked vertebrae. However doctors then discovered he had a naturally fused vertebrae.

Five hours later he was on his way home but was kept off the rugby field for a month.

"You see these people on TV and they look like they know what they are doing and that's the way it turned out for me. It is something you don't appreciate until it affects you. It sounds cliched but how can you ever know when you will need it."


Natalie Aitken

The Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopter saved Natalie Aitken's life - of that she is sure.

What started out as a trip to Whangarei to attend a funeral, very nearly ended in Natalie's own farewell.

The fit and healthy former Northlander went from seemingly perfect health one minute to coming out of a 10-hour operation less than two days later.

For the Warkworth businesswoman and her husband, Ross, it was a huge jolt.

It has since been revealed by specialists that Natalie suffers from a rare cardio thoracic condition.

Once the threat of a burst aorta was discovered on that day back in mid-July, Natalie was flown out of Northland Base Hospital aboard the Electricity Rescue Helicopter to Auckland hospital with a prognosis which did not look promising.

Thankfully she is now on the road to recovery despite three doses of pleurisy since, resulting in a number of hospital visits and the need for plenty of rest due to the trauma around her heart. Natalie believes she was lucky to be in Whangarei at the time.

Ross is quite certain Natalie's life was saved by the speed and efficiency of the rescue helicopter team and the specialists at Auckland hospital.

"The surgeon was pretty straight up about my chances.

"Apparently it is a condition (of the connective tissues of the ascending aorta, causing a Type A Aorta Dissection) I was born with so there was no telling when I would have ever ended up in this situation.

"At least now my family has a chance to be assessed and have a corrective procedure to sort out the problem.

"That's a very positive outcome along with the fact I am on my way back to good health," Natalie said.



© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a1 at 18 Apr 2014 15:27:36 Processing Time: 651ms