Former Northland cricket star Joey Yovich took his first flight in the Northland Electricity rescue helicopter yesterday.

Fortunately for Mr Yovich he was not being rushed to hospital for urgent medical care but instead getting a glimpse at the work done by the rescue crew after being named a Northland Emergency Services Trust (NEST) ambassador.

NEST ambassadors help the organisation promote the service and create more fundraising opportunities. The annual appeal to boost the NEST coffers starts this week. Mr Yovich joins ambassadors Louise Giltrap, Kerikeri, and Anthony Blundell, Ruawai, and Whangarei radio host John Markby.

"It was an easy answer to say yes when I was asked. When you see what the service has done over the last 26 years it's a real honour to be asked," Mr Yovich said. "Thankfully I have not had to use this service but I know people who have and that is why I'm honoured to come on board as an official ambassador to help raise money for this charitable service."


Just recently a close cricketing friend suffered a severe heart attack. He was taken to the Whangarei helicopter base on Western Hills Dr and deemed what they call in the medical trade a "code STEMI" and flown immediately to Auckland Hospital. The time saved in the air rather than spending it on the road meant he got critical and timely medical attention which saw him live.

"When one of these Northland rescue helicopters gets to someone in need within that golden hour, their chances of survival and a better outcome are much better. They say every minute, every second makes a difference."

Since 1988 the rescue teams have transported nearly 17,000 and over the last 12 months they have flown 735 missions and transported 800 people to hospitals or medical facilities around the north. Mr Yovich said the aerial perspective made him appreciate the rugged Northland terrain.

The appeal is officially launched next Wednesday at the Capitaine Bougainville Theatre where a new documentary hosted by TV news reader Simon Dallow will screen. The 30-minute documentary covers the history of the helicopter service and the work it does across Northland every day.

- For the first time a give-a-little site has also been set up to take donations -