TECT Rescue Helicopter saving lives over summer

TECT Rescue Helicopter. Video/Photos: Supplied.


It’s been a busy fortnight for the TECT Rescue Helicopter flying around the Bay of Plenty helping save people who have been bitten by a dog, nearly drowned, or have accidentally cut off their thumb.


For the TECT Rescue Helicopter team, the summer break can be the busiest time of their year.


On Boxing Day the TECT Rescue Helicopter was called to three incidents.


The day began with urgently transporting a 77 year old man to Waikato Hospital who had suffered a serious cardiac event requiring specialist intervention at the hospital.


In the afternoon the TECT Rescue Helicopter was dispatched to Te Kaha where a nine-year-old boy had been bitten by a dog. He received lacerations to the face and was flown by the team to Waikato Hospital accompanied by his mother for specialist treatment.


In the evening the TECT Rescue Helicopter was dispatched to Opotiki where a woman in her 80s was suffering a serious cardiac event. She was flown to Waikato Hospital for specialist treatment.

TECT Rescue Helicopter in Opotiki


On Christmas Day, in the evening, the TECT Rescue Helicopter was called to Athenree where a man in his 70s suffered a medical event while swimming in his pool at home.


“He was swimming with his wife when he fell unwell and ended up under water for three minutes,” says a Rescue NZ spokesperson. “She raised the alarm, and family members and then FENZ volunteers provided CPR and successfully resuscitated the man.


“He was flown to Tauranga hospital in a serious condition.”

TECT Rescue Helicopter in Athenree


The TECT Rescue Helicopter relies on and needs the support of the local community to ensure that a rescue helicopter is available.


“Your rescue helicopter can be airborne in ten minutes and, in a life or death situation, this speed and agility can make all the difference. The timely assistance that rescue helicopters provide can reduce disability and improve survival – the sooner treatment begins, the greater chance of patient recovery.”


On Tuesday December 22, the TECT Rescue Helicopter “was tasked to Pukehina beach for a male who had a non-fatal-drowning” says a spokesperson.


“The patient was treated at the scene by the onboard Intensive Care Paramedic and taken to Tauranga Hospital by ambulance.”


“Later the crew were tasked to Waihau Bay for a seven-year-old boy who had an allergic reaction to a bee sting. He was airlifted to hospital.”

TECT Rescue Helicopter at Pukehina Beach


On Sunday December 20, the TECT Rescue Helicopter was dispatched in the morning to Katikati where a 54-year-old local man had cut his thumb off whilst using a wood splitter.


The patient was flown through to Waikato Hospital for specialist surgery.



On Thursday December 17, The TECT Rescue Helicopter was tasked to a woman in her 60s who suffered a serious medical event at her home near Edgecumbe.


The woman transported to Tauranga Hospital for treatment.


At around 5.30pm on the same day, the TECT Rescue Helicopter was tasked to Cambridge where a 17 year old male received suspected spinal injuries whilst jumping or diving into a pool. He was airlifted to Middlemore Hospital in a serious condition.


The day before, on Wednesday December 16, The TECT Rescue Helicopter was at the scene of an accident involving a car and truck on State Highway 5, just out of Rotorua.


“The onboard Intensive Care Paramedic from the TECT Rescue Helicopter helped treat the patient at the scene but the patient had a serious spine injury requiring transportation via road ambulance.


“The crew was tasked before leaving the scene to pick up a STEMI patient from Rotorua Hospital and transfer through to Waikato Hospital.”


TECT Rescue Helicopter on SH5 near Rotorua


Last summer, their team of paramedics and pilots carried out over 152 lifesaving missions, including medical flights for strokes, sepsis, seizures, cardiac events and premature labour, and various injuries resulting from riding falls, quad bike rolls, at-home DIY injuries, motor vehicle accidents, hunting and forestry fall injuries.


When Glenys Davis and her family set out on a summer walk to Orokawa Bay, they didn’t expect it to end with a broken ankle injury and a winch lift for Glenys into a hovering rescue helicopter at the William Wright Waterfall.


The TECT Rescue Helicopter was the only means of rescue when attempts by ground personnel to stretcher the patient out proved too dangerous a manoeuvre on foot.


Glenys says despite being nervous, she knew she was in safe hands.


“The crew were all fantastic and made me feel very comfortable on my flight to Tauranga Hospital. The kindness, thoughtfulness and high levels of professionalism was so comforting to me during my very trying ordeal," says Glenys.


“I can’t stop thinking about the wonderful people I met that day and am extremely grateful and appreciative to all in attendance. I’m indebted to them all.”


The TECT Rescue Helicopter has transformed itself into a fully-fledged air emergency medical service with the employment of its own full time Flight Paramedic work force and Intensive Care Paramedics (ICP). The recruitment of ICPs has transformed medical treatment and dramatically reduced prior response times, thereby significantly raising levels of patient care.


“We are partially funded by a Government contract with National Ambulance Sector Office,” says a TECT Rescue Helicopter spokesperson. “We rely heavily on the generosity of sponsors and the community to help fund the shortfall that allows us to be rescue ready 24/7, 365 days of the year.


“This crucial financial support ensures our rescue helicopter can continue to bring life-saving equipment, rescue personnel, and intensive care paramedics directly to the patient.

“Without your support, your rescue helicopter would not be able to remain operational on a 24/7, 365 day a year basis. This could mean a serious delay in people being rescued or transported to hospital for urgent treatment.”


The service’s commitment to exceeding government standards means that ongoing change and improvements to the service are constantly being made, despite significantly increased costs.

The charity relies greatly on generous donations from the public and the support of sponsors to make up their annual operating costs of $3.05 million. Their principal sponsor is local funder TECT.


Since 2003, TECT has supported the TECT Rescue Helicopter with over $2.6 million in funding to help cover operating costs. $600,000 of that was approved last year to support the charity over three years.


Philips Search & Rescue Trust Marketing Manager Sharni Weir says that with each flight costing around $8,000, and with over 36 missions made every month across the Bay of Plenty, TECT’s funding is vital to the charity’s ability to save lives.


“We are so thankful for TECT’s ongoing and loyal support. Without the generosity of sponsors such as TECT we would not be able to be there for our community 24/7, 365 days a year,” says Sharni.


TECT Deputy Chairperson Natalie Bridges says the TECT Rescue Helicopter is an obvious choice for TECT to be aligning with and supporting.


“TECT’s most critical role is to serve all the residents of the Western Bay of Plenty, providing through community grants, the infrastructure, the services and the vibrancy that we all need and want for the place where we live. The TECT Rescue Helicopter is all of those things,” says Natalie.


“When you need the helicopter, you need it, and we want to make sure it’s here for our community and that’s what TECT is all about. I know that the helicopter has a special place in the hearts of the people who live here, so it’s extremely heart-warming and it’s a huge privilege to be part of it.”


TECT Trustee Mark Arundel says the service the TECT Rescue Helicopter provides is invaluable.


“The rescue helicopter is something that all of us in the community could need at some time. Over its 20 years, 3000 lives have been delivered to trauma care within that golden hour and most of them have survived,” says Mark.


“Every time people see the helicopter fly, it’s costing around $8000, but it’s almost always a life saved. If you try to put that against what it costs to run the helicopter, those lives saved are priceless.”


To support our TECT Rescue Helicopter and make a lifesaving difference click here.


Saving Lives, Together.


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