There was just one thing John Bellerby was thankful for as he lay on the ground with a broken back after flipping off his farm bike.
And that was he could be flown off his Ngongotahā farm to Rotorua Hospital in a rescue helicopter and didn't have to endure a bumpy trip by ambulance on the road.
Bellerby is thrilled National has pledged funding to bring back Rotorua's rescue helicopter service if it wins the election next month, saying "what price do you put on a life?".
Rotorua MP Todd McClay alongside National's health spokesman Dr Shane Reti announced yesterday that National would, if elected, pledge $1.6 million annually for four years to return Rotorua's rescue helicopter.
Bellerby, now a Rotorua real estate agent who flew helicopters for 25 years, said he took part in dozens of rescues during his career as a helicopter pilot and he never dreamed he would be on the receiving end of needing the service.
"I can't begin to describe how strongly I felt about being able to be flown to hospital. I had broken my back ... I would have done anything to hop on that helicopter rather than endure a ride on the ground."
Bellerby said rescue helicopters were "worth their weight in gold".
"It will save lives."
He said Rotorua was big enough for its own service and was a centre for domestic visitors to try out activities.
"Accidents happen as a result of that. I was quite devastated when they took it away and I think it's a grand idea to bring it back."
Rotorua lost its rescue helicopter service in 2018. Labour's Health Minister at the time, David Clark, said there was unease about the change but said the response times were expected to be the same as or faster than under the current model.
In 2018, there was a public outcry, hundreds attended a public meeting and thousands signed a petition for Rotorua to keep its service.
McClay said Rotorua's rescue helicopter should never have been sold.
"This is an extremely busy area and a cost can't be put on saving lives."
McClay said since it was sold, demand for the service had continued to be high.
"It is the only rescue chopper in the country that was cancelled. There have been incidents where a rescue helicopter was too far away and ground support was used instead. In other cases, a helicopter had been sent from Hamilton or Auckland or Taranaki. This just doesn't make sense."
He said he had heard concerns from local people and had secured funding to bring the helicopter back if National is elected next month.
"In order to ensure its long-term sustainability, it would be operated locally by the Rotorua Rescue Helicopter Trust which was formed in 2018. The people of Rotorua will own this rescue and emergency helicopter to ensure it cannot be sold off again.
"We need to bring it back this is a vital emergency service for Rotorua."
Trust chairman Mark Mortimer, who was at the policy announcement yesterday held at Volcanic Air, said National's pledge was fantastic news however the trust would still need community funding to support it.
Mortimer said the trust had been lobbying for the past two years but couldn't fundraise until it had confirmation the service could be returned.
He said the current system made no sense as helicopters were being sent to Rotorua from Tauranga, Taupō, Auckland and other areas at a huge cost when you considered the "dead legs", which was the term used for the amount of time the machine was flying empty.
He said when rescue helicopters were restructured, they were promised a more efficient and modernised fleet and in his opinion, that hadn't happened.
If National won the election, Mortimer said they would want their gear returned which he believed rightfully belonged to Rotorua as much of it was funded by the community, such as the Night Vision Goggles, hoisting equipment, helmets, vets and stretchers.
The Phillips Search and Rescue Trust, which runs the rescue helicopter service, has been approached for comment.
Trust member Sandra Kai Fong told the Rotorua Daily Post at the announcement that reinstating the service was a matter of safety.
She said a review of the rescue helicopter restructure was promised but never happened.
"The whole review process whichever party is in Government needs to be looked at again."
Labour's Waiariki MP Tāmati Coffey said Rotorua and the surrounding area had an air ambulance service that provided rapid, effective and safe emergency treatment when they needed it.
"Data I've seen shows that response times for our air ambulances have improved since we modernised these services to better deliver for whānau."
Coffey said he was confident the community could see that despite National's "fear mongering", Labour has led a Government turning around health outcomes for our community and we need to keep moving.
"This hard work has included increased investment in mental health, addictions and mobile dental services at Lakes, delivering cheaper doctors' visits for all eligible patients in the DHB's catchment, and delivering $11.2 million into building St John Ambulance a modern hub here in Rotorua to respond to emergencies from, creating 120 new jobs."
Coffey said if re-elected he would continue to make sure air ambulance needs and actual results were heavily monitored and reviewed.