Goodbye after more than 3000 rescues

TALIA SHADWELL
Last updated 05:00 11/03/2014
Dave Greenberg
ROSS GIBLIN/ Fairfax NZ

SAYING GOODBYE: Dave Greenberg has been involved in more than 3000 rescues, dealing with people on the worst days of their lives.

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A veteran rescue helicopter crewman is not quite grounded yet after being told he has to hang up his helmet.

New Yorker Dave Greenberg, 51, has lost his job as Westpac rescue helicopter crewman and operations manager after his role was disestablished by the Life Flight Trust, which operates the chopper.

He is preparing to bid farewell to a role that he describes as a "passion" not a job.

"I see people on the worst day of their life and I just try to use a ‘bedside manner' with humour - if you can get someone to smile or laugh on the worst day of their life, it means the world."

Mr Greenberg will continue to work for the trust part-time.

He was given the opportunity to apply for two new managerial positions, but neither involved flying so the winch operator has announced his departure.

"I always told them they'd need to buy a bigger helicopter to fit me and my zimmer-frame, but I guess that won't be a problem anymore."

Mr Greenberg said he was "surprised and disappointed" his role was disestablished but he did not have a bad word to say about the trust.

"It's just so important. Everybody knows somebody who has been on that helicopter or the plane."

Though he will fly part-time, his attention will now turn to reviving a consulting business he started in the 1990s, called Emergency Preparedness Services.

Mr Greenberg has been involved in more than 3000 rescues and has come to be known as the face of the Life Flight Trust which he joined as a volunteer in 1991. He became well-known through TV One's Life Flight TV show.

He has played a rescue role in stories that shook New Zealand, including flying over Christchurch within hours of the devastating 2011 quake and helping airlift dozens to safety.

He has formed a lasting bond with airman Stevin Creeggan, the sole survivor of the 2010 Air Force Iroquois helicopter crash.

Life Flight Trust board chair Bill Day said the review emerged out of changes to safety regulations.

The trust, which requires $4 million in donations annually to operate the rescue helicopter and air ambulance, was in healthy shape thanks to community support and the hard work of the crew including Mr Greenberg, he said.

"He's done a great job over the years, and he has been an integral part of our team."

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- The Dominion Post

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