Busy weekend for rescue chopper

A 51-year-old Richmond man suffered critical upper spinal injuries after falling head-first into the turf from a mountain bike during a ride near Kaiteriteri yesterday.

The man was flown to Nelson Hospital about 4pm by the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter.

He was treated at the scene and then on board the helicopter by intensive care paramedics.

He was later flown to Burwood Hospital, Nelson Hospital confirmed today.

St John team manager Gary Tobin, who was an attending paramedic, said the man had been riding his bike with friends on a track between Kaiteriteri and Marahau and came off after going over a home-made jump.

It appeared the man had been attempting a fast, steeply pitched jump and had been thrown over the handlebars, Mr Tobin said.

He went head-first into hard-packed turf and suffered what appeared to be a critical injury in his upper spine.

The helicopter had to land in the yard of a private home and emergency workers walked about 100 metres down the hill to where the man lay.

"He needed to be extricated quickly and carefully. It was a balance of doing the right thing," Mr Tobin said.

The man was then carried up the track to the chopper.

The rescue was the final in a string of accidents and emergencies around the region over the weekend, which had the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter running almost non-stop.

Before the call to Kaiteriteri, it had flown to a remote area in the Horseshoe Basin behind Mt Arthur in the Kahurangi National Park, where a 51-year-old Nelson woman with a leg injury was flown to Nelson Hospital.

The chopper's crew understood the woman was part of a group of 15 cavers on a four-day exploratory trip.

On Saturday the helicopter was called at 5.40am to an 86-year-old Motueka woman with a serious medical condition.

She was initially treated at her home by crew from Motueka St John Ambulance.

She was then taken to Motueka Airport, where the helicopter and its on-board intensive care paramedic was waiting to take her through to Nelson Hospital emergency department.

About 9am, the helicopter was sent to Perry Saddle hut on the Heaphy Track in the Kahurangi National Park to attend to a 15-year-old Collingwood girl who was part of a school party walking the track from Karamea back to Collingwood.

The girl was suffering from abdominal pain and was assessed at Perry Saddle by the rescue crew and flown to Nelson Hospital emergency department.

A short time later the helicopter was sent to the Tasman area to take a 41-year-old woman with a serious medical condition to Nelson Hospital emergency department.

The woman was initially treated at home by a St John Ambulance team.

The Nelson Mail