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On a rescue mission

JAY BOREHAM
Last updated 05:00 06/03/2014
Silage Bale

CRUSHED: Westpac rescue helicopter staff arrive as St John paramedics attend to Tom Austin after he was crushed by a silage bale.

Tom Austin
BED-BOUND: Tom Austin is still in Auckland City Hospital after the accident and can't wait to get home in several weeks.

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A man crushed by a silage bale hopes to be able to learn to walk again in several weeks.

Tom Austin is grateful to the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust for giving him the chance.

"I think I owe my life to them," he says.

Mr Austin was tying down a load of silage bales on a truck at Tapora on February 5 when one came loose and rolled towards him. The 700-kilogram bale struck his shoulder, knocked him to the ground and rolled over his body.

He suffered a broken sternum and ribs, a bruised lung and internal bleeding when his pelvis was shattered into four pieces.

The Westpac rescue helicopter was called to take him to Auckland Hospital.

He nearly died from internal bleeding and believes the speed of the helicopter saved his life.

The Tomarata man has been in hospital since the accident. His bones need to heal before he can start rehabilitation and learn to walk again.

"I'm lying in bed wishing I can get out, but I have another three weeks to go."

Mr Austin says one of the first things he will do is visit the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust with a well-earned donation.

"As soon as I can get up and get the money they will get one from me."

He encourages others to do the same.

Mr Austin's rescue was one of 13 by the helicopter in the Rodney area in February, plus three on March 1.

Two people were airlifted at 12.10am on March 1 after a car rolled alongside State Highway 16 near Wellsford. A 17-year-old man was also picked up that same day after a crash involving three cars in Dome Valley.

"With 25 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 Hibiscus Coast says.

Auckland Westpac rescue helicopters were involved in 89 rescues in the Rodney and Hibiscus Coast area last year. That is a 38 per cent increase in rescue missions since 2012.

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

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- Rodney Times

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