Matamata lad to the rescue

21:23, Jan 22 2013
Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter's newest recruit Lance Burns.
Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter's newest recruit Lance Burns.

The Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter's newest recruit grew up admiring planes at Waharoa Airfield.

Pilot Lance Burns, 27, originally from Matamata, left a job flying tourists over the Fox Glacier in the South Island to join the two-man Palmerston North Rescue Helicopter service.

The experienced pilot is comfortable in the cockpit of the same type of single-engine chopper he flew to ferry tourists about, but his precious cargo has changed, with his new role with the air ambulance requiring him to fly patients and paramedics to safety.

"It's definitely a bit of a change," Mr Burns said.

"The flying part doesn't change, it's still a helicopter . . . but the reason I'm flying is different and adds a little bit more pressure."

He jumped at the chance to take on the vital role.

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"I suppose it's just the ability to help people and make a difference in people's lives," he said.

The rescue helicopter's newest recruit and former Matamata College student faced high-stakes action almost immediately.

One of his first missions as a rescue pilot required him to make a landing in the middle of the road in Dannevirke, which he admits was a strange experience.

Since then he has picked up a woman in need of urgent medical treatment north of Castlepoint after she accidentally stabbed herself.

Pilot and base manager Chris Moody, who has been at the helm of the service since February last year, welcomed Mr Burns aboard.

"In his first week he managed to negotiate the busiest five days we've had for many months and he appeared to do this with consummate ease, so we are hoping he's made of the right stuff," Mr Moody said.

Mr Burns replaces pilot Marc Bridgman, who resigned in December.

Matamata Chronicle