The Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust FRIENDS fundraising campaign is now on.
Become a FRIEND and together we can save lives.
Over the next eight weeks representatives of the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter will be calling homes rallying for help – will you answer the call for help?
By freelance writer Sharyn Smart
Stratford man Guy Vickers says he would have died without the help of the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter crew winching him off Mt Taranaki.
“I can’t describe the feeling when I heard the thump of the copter. It was an amazing feeling. The first person to see me was crewman Phil Dwyer. He pointed to me and gave me two ‘thumbs up’ from the chopper cargo bay. At that point I knew that I was absolutely safe. They’d found me.”
Guy was climbing on the slopes of Mt Taranaki when he fell threw a snow pocket and severely broke multiple bones in his ankle.
“I walked into the gully OK on snow … but as I retraced my steps I chose to move further down towards the gully base. After the fourth step my left foot just broke through the surface of the snow and I went down about a metre where my crampons grabbed on a sloping rock underneath. The weight of my body with my day pack came down on that left foot and just snapped outwards, breaking several bones in my ankle area!”
Realising he was in a lot of trouble Guy sent a 111 text “Broken ankle. Need help. Near Kapunui Lodge.” As he realised many hours would pass before he would be missed and a search party could be despatched, he devised a plan to get himself back on the track increasing his chances of being found easier.
“I knew in the back of my mind it was going to be a long wait. It was pretty much down to true grit – it was up to me. I was worried that it wouldn’t work out. This could go very wrong if I gave in. If I just said ‘It’s over, I’m injured, I’m in severe pain, I’m cold, I’m just going to lie down and give up maybe they would’ve found me alive – maybe not.”
“I crawled about 50 metres around the gully to the track, calling out ‘help’ as I went. The pain was starting to set in. I said to myself I will just crawl 10 metres, send out another text and try to make a phone call, take a breather and then crawl another 10 metres.”
Finally getting reception, emergency services answered his call. He ‘felt a real big sigh of relief’ knowing the Rescue Copter was on its way.
“I was really tired, scared and disorientated. I wasn’t suffering any blood loss or hypothermia but the pain was so intense it was unbearable. I was struggling to focus on what I was doing.”
First on the scene was Taranaki Alpine Cliff Rescue volunteer Mike Johns followed by Paramedic Roger Blume.
“Mike comforted me and found out what the situation was before Paramedic Roger was lowered down. Both of them were very capable and professional. Roger clearly explained everything he was doing. He even stayed with me all the way through A&E.”
Roger explains “Guy had a very painful lower leg, which was obviously fractured as it was displaced. Guy required a generous amount of intravenous pain relief to enable Mike and I to apply a splint. We then packaged Guy into the stretcher for a winch recovery to the aircraft”.
“Guy was fortunate to be able to summon assistance by cell phone, and his experience demonstrates the importance of having a PLB or a cell phone when in the outdoors, especially when on your own.”
Guy continues “For me I just couldn’t believe that I was injured. This happened so fast and so out of the blue that it really took me by surprise. I was totally prepared and didn’t think I was taking any risks. I was quite happy to be in the chopper. I remember still being in pain but I was more restful and relaxed knowing I had been rescued.”
For a small annual donation of $50 you can join the FRIENDS of the Rescue Helicopter membership programme. As a FRIEND, if you are hospitalised outside of the region and require an extended period of recovery in Taranaki Base Hospital the Trust will transport you back. You will be transferred by fixed-wing or helicopter. Special conditions do apply.
Remember any donation over $5 qualifies for a tax rebate.
For further information please contact the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter on
0508 4737 283 or www.taranakirescue.org.nz <http://www.taranakirescue.org.nz>