Rescue helicopter open day

LUKE KIRKEBY
Last updated 13:30 08/04/2014
Greenlea Rescue Helicopter
Luke Kirkeby/Fairfax NZ

VITAL: Greenlea Rescue Helicopter base manager and pilot Nat Every next to the helicopter as it is serviced.

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Despite its often difficult nature Greenlea Rescue Helicopter base manager and pilot Nat Every believes his job is more rewarding than most.

"I had always wanted to fly helicopters [before Greenlea] and had at the back of my mind that I wanted to get into the rescue side of it.

"It got to the point where I thought I have got to either do it or stop talking about wanting to and it's nice to know you are helping people to some degree in their time of need."

With the rescue helicopter service's annual open day on Sunday, locals have the chance to get an insight into what the community funded rescue services actually does.

Every, who has been with the service for 3 years, said it will be a fun day for all.

"It is basically an opportunity for people to come out and see the helicopter, sit in it, meet the pilots, crew and other emergency services we work with," he said. "They will also have the chance to go for a ride in our winch trainer, have their face painted and take part in colouring in."

He said the service costs around $1 million a year to keep in operation.

It handles an estimated 250 plus call outs annually, he said.

"We tend to a full spectrum of rescues from car accidents and someone falling of a ladder to medical conditions, search and rescue and hospital transfers.

"Sometimes we get good information [for call outs] but sometimes it's poor which is where it's important to have a good crew around you who have got the experience to fill in any gaps.

"At the very least you have to go prepared for anything."

Every said during his time he has turned up to some very nasty scenes.

"I am a helicopter pilot, not a paramedic, and unfortunately you can't un-see some of the stuff you do but you try to keep it in perspective. Your job is to give the person the best possible opportunity to have a positive outcome to whatever situation they are in."

He said one of the most rewarding aspects of the job was hearing people had recovered after being rescued.

"It's nice when you hear back because it puts closure on that event."

Every said although ACC often covered the cost of flying to scenes, maintenance and equipment was community funded which made donations essential.

"In some respects it is an insurance policy. We all take out house and car insurance in the hope if something goes wrong it will be there and it's the same sort of thing with the rescue helicopter."

The open day will take place in the Greenlea hanger at the Taupo Airport from 10am till 2pm. For more information or to donate visit rescue.org.nz or Facebook Philips Search and Rescue Trust.

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- Waikato

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