Wairarapa local Ewen woke suddenly in his bed on the 31st of August. His arms were numb, his body cold and clammy. Just that day he had been experiencing chest pains, which he dismissed as bronchitis. Little did Ewen know, he had been experiencing small heart attacks.
He stumbled downstairs to fetch some Panadol, but the pain and dizziness overcame him, and he had to lean on the pantry shelves to stabilise himself. His wife at the time found him and quickly decided that they needed to get to the hospital, fast – those small heart attacks had become a major one. He walked into the emergency room at Masterton Hospital, and a medical team rushed in to triage him right away.
“I don’t have a fear of dying, and I thought I was on my way out”.
The team at Masterton Hospital tried to stabilise Ewen, but soon he was having another heart attack, his feet twitching with pain.
I remember the nurse looking at my feet and saying, “he’s having another one, and it doesn’t look good”. The pain was unbelievable.
Shortly after, Ewen’s family arrived, and the medical team managed to stabilise him again. However, the doctors knew it wouldn’t be for long – Ewen needed to get to Wellington Hospital for life saving surgery. The Westpac Rescue Helicopter was called.
To prepare for the flight, Ewen was placed on a stretcher and moved to the local hockey field which serves as the local landing spot for the Westpac Chopper. Soon after, Ewen was onboard with pilot Harry, crewperson Logan and a Wellington Free Ambulance flight paramedic and speeding toward Wellington.
“They were awesomely professional. After spending quite a bit of time in Iroquois helicopters when I was in the army, it was cool to be in one again, albeit for a different use”.
27 minutes later, the Westpac Chopper landed on the roof of Wellington Hospital and Ewen was taken straight through to the operating theatre where three stents were placed in his heart. The next day he was able to return to Masterton Hospital.
The impact of his ordeal has not been lost on Ewen, and thanks to the support of kind people like you, Ewen is making the most of life.
“If this had happened 10 years ago, it would have ended in my funeral, but because of the helicopter and those people on it, I’m still walking around”.
With his heart currently performing at about 40%, Ewen is making the most of his new lease on life. “I’ve always loved motorcycles. I recently bought one and have been driving around backroads and enjoying the country – at 67 years of age.”
When I see the helicopter flying over. I still get emotional. I just want to say thank you to the crew for saving my life, and please keep donating to this important service.
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Westpac Rescue HelicopterWhen speed is critical or when the location is remote or challenging, Life Flight’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter is called upon. Your local Westpac Chopper is ready for anything, 24/7, thanks to the generosity of the community.