Chopper quick to help

Last updated 05:00 23/01/2014

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In just seconds Barbara Van Meygaarden's holiday descended into a nightmare.

She was travelling back from a holiday in Kerikeri with husband Carlo driving.

Barbara was enjoying the scenery in the Dome Valley when she noticed a car travelling in the opposite direction suddenly cross the centre line and head straight for them.

It hit their vehicle, impacting the driver's side at high speed.

"It all happened so fast," Barbara says.

"One minute we're enjoying our drive home from a lovely two-day break and the next, we're involved in a major accident."

The Westpac rescue helicopter was called to the December 28 incident at 1.24pm and arrived to find her out of the vehicle and walking around traumatised.

She needed to be flown to the nearest major trauma hospital to assess the extent of her injuries.

Barbara was airlifted to Auckland Hospital in a serious condition.

She was discharged after being cleared of internal injuries.

Carlo suffered a back injury, with bruising, pulled muscles and suspected cracked ribs.

Both are extremely grateful for the care and professionalism of the emergency services personnel who attended to them and are philosophical about the accident.

"It's still all a bit raw at the moment," Barbara says.

"But in hindsight it was probably a good thing the car hit us because there were two young kids in the car directly behind us and I would hate to think what could have happened if it had hit them."

Barbara's family made a donation to the rescue service the following day and has pledged support in the future.

"These things happen so suddenly so we are extremely grateful that the helicopter was there and want to make sure it keeps getting funded so it is there for our kids too," she says.

She is one of 89 rescues performed out of the Rodney and Hibiscus Coast area last year by Auckland Westpac rescue helicopters. The figure represents a 38 per cent increase in rescue missions since 2012 and makes the area the third most visited rescue area for the trust.

"With 10 rescues already out of the Hibiscus Coast, Rodney, Kaipara and further north this year, we're unfortunately off to an ominous start," Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust spokesman John Hooper of the Hibiscus Coast says.

"Not all of these are vehicle accidents. Some involve stingray attacks, builders falling from construction sites, heart attacks, boating incidents and the like."

To cover the increasing costs, the trust has fundraising events such as the Leigh Fishing Competition on March 8. There is $50,000 in cash and prizes up for grabs.

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With Warehine Contractors sponsoring the kids competition there is something for everyone, Mr Hooper says.

If you'd like to support the work of the rescue helicopters, you can purchase tickets by contacting Lynn and Keith at Leigh Fishing Lodge on 09 422 6780 and Hunting & Fishing in Warkworth or register online at leighfamilyfishing.co.nz.

If you can't make the event but would like to help towards funding the helicopters, text ‘chopper' to 5339 to make a quick $3 donation.

- Rodney Times

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