At Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trust's open day last week, there was a notable absence, to the disappointment of some of the children.

The chopper was meant to display a winch rescue - instead it was called away to the real thing. Such is the life of the service and all those who work for it. At a moment's notice they drop everything to help others.

As our three stories today show, sometimes it is those vital seconds that make all the difference.

They are all people with very different stories, united only by chance and the incredible work of the rescue crews.

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And they are just three of hundreds of Kiwis who would not be here today without a service hugely dependent on donations.

Kelly Lawson's bizarre accident made headlines around the world; Steve Rastovich was on the edge of becoming another terrible road statistic; Charlotte Cleverley-Bisman was New Zealand's poster child for meningitis awareness.

What they have in common is a spirit that does not allow them to look back with bitterness on what happened to them. Instead, they are thankful - for their lives and for the people who saved them.

The remarkable expertise of the rescue crews is a feature of each of these rescues, but none more so than Chris Deacon's piercing of Kelly Lawson's chest to allow her to breathe.

As Lawson says, "If he wasn't there at that specific time, there's no two ways about it - I wouldn't be here. He definitely saved my life."

Movingly, Lawson and her husband Dion now have two children - 7-year-old Alyssa and Jack, 5. Two more lives only here thanks to Westpac Helicopter rescue.

We would all do well to remember this when we're driving, boating and going about our daily business - we can have no inkling of when we may need this service for ourselves or our loved ones.

It is further testament to the rescue crews that many become close friends with those they save. Whatever they may modestly say, this is far more than a job to them.

The Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter aims to raise $200,000 by the end of June.

Please give whatever you can. Every little helps.