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Northlandís air ambulance clocks up distance


Pouto 3(copy)So far this year, the Northland Emergency Services Trust’s (NEST) dedicated air ambulances have clocked up a total of 639 hours in the air, responding to emergency callouts and transporting patients to the region’s hospitals.

“With the helicopters travelling at an average speed of 278kph, the fleet has travelled more than 166,980km this year alone,” says chief pilot and NEST CEO Peter Turnbull. “That’s the equivalent of travelling four times around the world.

“Our Sikorsky S-76 machines are built to travel up to 724km in a single trip. That makes us the service of choice in New Zealand when long range rescues are required.”

One of the longest trips this year was a life flight, transferring a patient from Masterton to Auckland Hospital in March, which was a one hour 40 minute trip each way.

Other recent callouts include:

* Rushing a patient with hydrocephalus, known more commonly as ‘water on the brain’, from Whangarei to Auckland Hospital.

* Collecting a patient suffering from a seizure in Mangawhai and transporting them to Whangarei Hospital.

* Rushing a patient with a deadly aortic tear (a tear on the inner wall of the aorta causing a damaging blood flow) to Auckland Hospital.

* Collecting a patient with hypothermia from Russell and rushing them to Whangarei Hospital.

* Attending to a case of intussusception, a medical disorder involving the intestines.

NEST is a 24 hour, seven day a week operation, which means its team of pilots and medical support staff are always on call.

“Every flight requires two pilots on board to ensure the mission is completed without any issues,” said Mr Turnbull. 
“Our air ambulance service would not be possible without the generous donations from sponsors and community donations, including the $46,000 raised from the recent Westpac Chopper Appeal.”

LIFE SAVER: The air ambulance is fast, and can reach even remote areas, like this accident scene at Pouto near Dargaville.
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