Life Flight

Each week 28 people need time-critical aeromedical care. With your support, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and Air Ambulance Planes are there in their moment of need.

Meet Pat from Kāpiti

Meet Pat

85-year-old Pat pulled on her gumboots – it was Boxing Day, and she and her husband, Con, were off to their friend’s farm in Cape Palliser where they had spent numerous weekends over the years. Pat had many fond memories of visiting the farm when her kids were young and was looking forward to enjoying the sunny day and making new memories with her family.

Pat and her family trundled down to the bottom paddock to say hello to the Kunekune pigs. Her husband, who has limited mobility, watched on from the ridgeline.

Pat, along with her daughter Sheridan, son-in-law, and two granddaughters, Tessa and Abby, walked over a grassy flat when suddenly her foot got caught in a rabbit hole. She turned to reach a nearby fence, however, narrowly missed it and landed on the ground, sitting up.

“As soon as I fell, I just knew something was wrong, and I remember saying to my granddaughter, “I can’t do this again.” A year prior, Pat had experienced another fall where she had broken her right femur (thigh bone) and shoulder, from which she had just recovered.

Pat remembers her granddaughter Tessa saying, “nan, don’t look at it, just don’t look.” In a state of shock, Pat looked down at her leg, which was sitting at a right angle. She had broken her left femur.

Tessa immediately called 111, and given the rural location of the accident, it was clear that a helicopter was Pat’s best choice. Pilot James, crewperson Mike and Wellington Free Ambulance flight paramedic Hannah quickly took to the skies in the Westpac Rescue Helicopter to where the Renner family were waiting.

“I was sitting there, with my granddaughter sitting behind me so I could lean on her, knowing that help will be here soon and give me gasses and drugs to stop the pain.”

As soon as the helicopter arrived, Hannah assessed Pat’s injuries

I don’t think I have met anyone so brave. It is excruciating and serious when you break your femur. Pat’s fracture was so severe that we had to sedate her to realign the bones and put on a splint. Pat had a lot of blood loss in her thigh from the break, which makes a speedy trip to Hospital beneficial.

Pat could not get over the professionalism that Hannah and the crew showed.

“They were just out of this world, truly. Hannah was so reassuring to my family and me.” Being extremely concerned for his wife, Con found his way down the bank with Abby so he could make sure she was all right.

Pat was then carried up the hill on a stretcher to the Westpac Helicopter and was flown immediately to Wellington Hospital. What would usually be a two-hour drive to Wellington Hospital by car, Pat was able to land on the hospital helicopter pad within minutes. There, Pat underwent surgery where doctors inserted a rod into her leg.

“I was in Wellington Hospital for two weeks where Hannah came back to see me, and then taken to Kenepuru Hospital for a further fortnight.”

Currently with a walking frame, Pat is encouraged to put as much weight on it as possible to strengthen her leg. However, a significant break like this doesn’t heal in a hurry.

“I think this time around, it will take longer to recover.”

Speaking from her hospital bed, Pat reflected that she was hesitant to call for help, not wanting to burden the first responders – a sentiment that had been echoed by other past Life Flight patients. However, Life Flight first began from Peter Button’s desire to be there to help those who require it. Those involved in the Trust today are motivated by the same thought.

Hannah reflects:

It is important to know that the Westpac Rescue Helicopter is here when you need it, and not to be afraid of it.

Pat remembers Button from his pioneering days, “and the amount of good he accomplished in all those years.” But she never thought that 40 years on, she would be landing on the roof of Wellington Hospital in the Westpac Chopper he fought so hard to establish.

Thanks to the generosity of people like you, the Life Flight team continues Button’s dream of helping the local community when they need it most. And ensuring lovely people like Pat always get the help they need, fast.

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