It was a crisp winter Kawerau morning when Paul Foote virtually died, having lost more than three litres of blood in a horrific crushing workplace accident.
Just over a year later, the 65-year-old mechanic is miraculously back at work despite the traumatic brush with death while on an emergency flight to hospital that day.
Foote credits his survival to a "guardian angel" - a TECT rescue helicopter paramedic.
"I remember just laying there waiting to hear the sirens ... My next memory is asking the hospital surgeon James whether he could save my right leg," he said.
It was June 16, 2021, when Foote, who owns waste management business Foote Bins, was tightening some bolts on a 700kg cardboard bailer clamp attached to one of his forklifts.
"I had only just started putting a wooden prop in place to raise the clamp up about a metre from the ground and moved in between the forks to make the adjustment.
"It suddenly fell off the forklift and I started running backwards to get out of its way, but I tripped and the clamp landed on my right leg and clipped my left leg, crushing both knees."
The impact severed one of Foote's arteries. Some of Foote's team tried to lift the clamp off his legs but it was far too heavy.
Trapped and bleeding profusely, he instructed his team to get the other forklift "but it was down the road at another job".
"So I told the guys to grab a couple of pipes and they levered the clamp off me."
Tourniquets were wrapped around Foote's thighs as an ambulance rushed its way to him.
Despite the immense trauma, he doesn't remember the ambulance arriving or his helicopter ride.
Foote's kneecap was torn off his right leg and his shin bone was cracked. He endured six hours of emergency surgery to amputate the leg above the knee. He also suffered a torn left kneecap, a fractured knee bone and lost "a big chunk of skin" from his shin bone.
"The doctors were thinking about whether to permanently fuse my left knee but decided to leave it and I had surgery to repair the damage about three days later."
The rescue helicopter paramedics initially planned to fly Foote to Waikato Hospital but he was losing so much blood, they feared he wouldn't make it, he said.
"I was told I lost more than three litres of blood and at one stage the paramedic couldn't find a pulse or a heart rate and my blood pressure was dropping."
He was taken to Tauranga Hospital instead.
"I probably wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for the TECT rescue chopper and the quick actions of the fantastic crew, especially critical care paramedic Flick [Lallier] who kept me alive so I made it to the hospital and she rang ahead so I went straight into surgery."
Foote is back to work as head mechanic and getting around the yard with a temporary prosthetic as best he can. He's still having regular physiotherapy and counselling sessions while waiting for a permanent prosthetic leg.
The plate that had been inserted into his left knee was removed about three weeks ago and was "healing well".
"It's been tough 12 months, especially getting used to learning to walk ... I'm doing okay, but it's the mental health side of things that's the hardest to deal with, and I still have several months of rehabilitation ahead of me.
"But I'm alive and you have to get on with things and look forward not back.
"I have a business to run and 15 staff and customers who rely on me and I'm not one to sit around for too long ... l have received great support from my family, my staff, close friends and ACC in terms of my rehabilitation, and I have so much to be grateful for."
This included Lallier "and the rest of the amazing TECT rescue chopper team who were there to help when I needed them. Flick was my guardian angel that day."
Foote hoped his story would help spur support for the rescue helicopter which relied on donations to operate.
Foote's "guardian angel" recalled the rescue, saying Foote was "in a really bad way". The tourniquets that had been applied were simply not enough. Every second mattered.
"I knew if we didn't get him to an operating theatre urgently, he wouldn't survive. After talking with our pilot, Todd, we changed our planned destination from Waikato Hospital to the local hospital. It was Paul's best chance," Lallier said.
"I just did all I could for him while we were in the air ... it was clear to me that Paul's best chance of survival would be amputation of one of his legs, and, despite the shock and serious nature of his injury, Paul knew that too."
Foote's daughter, Charlotte Hughes, 36, said her father was a "humble, kind and caring man" who was normally a man of few words.
"Dad has regularly described Flick to other people as his 'guardian angel' in his time of need and we totally agree. Flick's a pretty wonderful person, and dad owes his life to her, Todd and the rest of the crew on board the rescue helicopter that day."
The family was "forever grateful" for the actions of emergency responders that day.
"We never realised how close to death dad was until Flick came looking for him three days after his surgery and told him she wanted to check if he was still alive and kicking.
"Flick is dad's hero."
Hughes said her father was still "trying to go a million miles an hour".
"It's just not in dad's nature to want to sit down for long, and he lives his life to be there to support and care for other people."
Hughes is a member of the competitive NZ BBQ Alliance and also bakes to fundraise for the rescue helicopter and St John ambulance.
"And we will keep making donations to honour these people for their incredible efforts in saving my dad's life and countless other people," she said.
The average cost for each mission is $9500.
Since its inception in 2000, the TECT rescue helicopter service has completed more than 3900 callouts, including 474 missions last year compared to 448 in 2020.
So far this year, the helicopter service has had an average of 49 callouts per month.
Just last month, the service attended 46 lifesaving rescues across the district, including airlifting patients from Matakana Island, Ōpōtiki, Kaituna Cut and Te Kaha.
This included 27 inter-hospital transfers, eight rural farm incidents, three motor vehicle accidents, one injured tramper rescue and seven other medical events.
Falls, heart attacks, burns, pregnancy complications, and responding to a sunken boat were among the May 2022 rescue missions.
The rescue service is a charity with annual service delivery operating costs of $3.77 million.
TECT rescue helicopter pilot and base manager Liam Brettkelly said it had been especially busy in recent months and "without the community's support and donations to our annual appeal, we wouldn't exist".