You were there when Laura needed it the most | Philips Search and Rescue Trust

You were there when Laura needed it the most

As she flew off her mountain bike, down a bank and onto the floor of the Whakarewarewa Forest below, Laura sensed this was no ordinary fall.

She had had her fair share of tumbles before, but this one felt different.

What began as a ride through the Redwoods to celebrate her birthday with friends, had now ended with Laura fracturing three vertebrae in her neck and suffering multiple rib fractures. She also smashed her T-5 vertebrae in half and was, from that moment, a paraplegic.

“I was really terrified. There was no cellphone coverage which made things worse. The other riders had to go off to find reception and direct the ambulance to
the closest point within reach of me. The Redwoods are a walking track and not accessible to an ambulance. Thankfully people stayed with me on the track until help arrived.”

BayTrust Rescue Helicopter pilot Barry Vincent said it was difficult to pinpoint Laura’s exact location as the area was heavily vegetated.

“It was hard to find Laura’s accident site from the air but once the party were found, we utilised The Southern Trust Rescue Winch to lower a St John Intensive Care Paramedic down to the site to assist the medic already on the ground,” he said.

Laura is incredibly grateful a rescue helicopter was able to come to her aid, given her whereabouts on the remote forest floor.

“I understand it would have been difficult to get me out by land. They extracted me the most efficient way possible. Rescuers would have had to be crawling practically down rock faces to get to me, so thank goodness the BayTrust Rescue Helicopter was available. It was the best option.”

Laura, who by now was having involuntary convulsions due to falling temperatures and having been exposed to the elements for so long, was wrapped in blankets once on board. The rescue helicopter made the rapid flight to Middlemore Hospital where she remained for two weeks before being transferred to a spinal unit for a further three months.

Laura is now out of the spinal unit and living life a new way, having left Rotorua and moved back to Wellington.

“I have my ups and downs and I’m still working through some physical issues in terms of pain and mobility. I am starting to think about going back to work now. There is only so much swimming and gym sessions you can do,” she laughs.

We Need You

It could be you, your family, friends, staff or patrons that need us. Your support ensures the rescue helicopters are available in your community.

The Philips Search & Rescue Trust’s rescue helicopters can be airborne in 10 minutes, and in a life and death situation, this speed and agility can make all the difference. It is the timely assistance that the rescue helicopters provides that can reduce disability and improve survival - the sooner resuscitation and treatment begins the greater chance of patient recovery.

But the cost of this is huge. Philips Search & Rescue Trust’s rescue helicopters do not receive any funding from the New Zealand Government. Your local rescue helicopter does have contracts with ACC, DHB and New Zealand Police, but this only covers 47% of the operating costs. This means 53% of this must come from the community.

Without community support, your rescue helicopter would not be able to remain operational on a 24/7, 365 basis, which would mean a serious delay in people being rescued, or transported to and from hospital facilities for urgent treatment.

Becoming a supporter of your local rescue helicopters means you will be making a life-saving difference in your community.

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