Carmen and Mariah's Speedy Arrival
The small Wairarapa settlement of Tīnui, between Masterton and Castlepoint, is believed to be the first place in the world to have held an Anzac service. On April 25, 1916 Rev. Basil Ashcroft, who was moved by the loss of seven young Tīnui men killed in the Gallipoli campaign, conducted an early morning service, before leading a group to a nearby summit to erect a memorial cross, which still stands today.
A crowd of 3,000 flocked to Tīnui to celebrate the Anzac Day centenary on April 25, 2016. And the Anzac spirit of courage and endurance in the face of adversity was again on display weeks later, when local resident Kim Denton gave birth to twin daughters six weeks early.
It was a cold and dark winter’s night, and with the nearest hospital an hour’s drive away along twisting country roads, Kim knew her newly born daughters needed urgent medical support. Not long after they were born, Life Flight’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter was dispatched. The mission involved a technically challenging night-time flight landing in the paddock close to Kim’s rural lifestyle block home.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter Crewman Logan remembers just how tricky the landing was.
Just before dawn it was almost pitch black, and out in the farmlands there’s barely any light sources.
- Crewman Logan
"Because of the terrain we weren’t able to get the incubator to the house, so the nurses had to carry the babies across the paddock in the dark”.
“I will never forget the relief of hearing the chopper coming in and landing in the paddock about 500m from our home. We’re surrounded by pine trees so they could not land any closer,” Kim remembers.
The twins, bundled in blankets, were carefully carried by medical staff to the helicopter and placed in an incubator for the flight back to Wellington Hospital. Kim was transferred to Masterton Hospital by ambulance and she and her partner Terry, a shepherd general, drove to Wellington later that morning to be with their babies.
It was such a stressful time. We were in shock and words will never be enough to thank the Life Flight crew and the NICU doctor and two nurses for what they did for us that morning.
- Mum, Kim
The twins remained in Wellington Hospital’s NICU for almost two weeks before being transferred to Masterton Hospital, where they got strong enough to return home.
Now, five years on, the girls have just started at the local Whareama School. Both have blossomed into happy, healthy youngsters. They have a brother and three sisters, one of whom was born in Kim’s car as she and Terry tried to reach the Masterton Hospital in time.
Kim’s family were already acutely aware of the vital work performed by Life Flight, with her cousin previously being flown to Auckland’s Starship Hospital for ongoing treatment on several occasions.
“From the bottom of our hearts, Terry and I will be forever grateful for the crew and medical staff getting our precious wee girls to Wellington to receive the care they needed. The work they do supporting remote communities like ours is so important and valued.”
Life Flight pilot Harry Stevenson says night-time rescue missions like this can be challenging.
“Night flying and landings can be really tricky. Coming in to land in rural areas close to houses, we know there will be wires somewhere - in low light, they can be nearly impossible to spot. Night vision goggles help us to see the structures around the wires, such as poles.
“It’s fair to say that for us pilots they are one of the biggest technological advances since the advent of GPS. I can’t really imagine how we got by before them in the past.
It makes missions like this one to fly Carmen and Mariah so much safer for everyone involved.
- Pilot Harry
The crew were able to deliver twins Carmen and Mariah to the expert care they needed at Wellington Hospital in minutes. Without night vision goggles, and the caring supporters like you who helped fund them, this wouldn’t have been possible.
This holiday season the #1 item on our Wishlist is new night vision goggles. Will you help us?