A record number of rescues and challenging flying conditions resulted in ‘one of the busiest peak summer seasons’ ever said Northland Emergency Services Trust (NEST) of New Zealand. The NEST team attended 107 rescue missions in January alone, compared with 84 the previous year, an increase of 27 per cent.
Peter Turnbull, the Trust’s chief pilot and chief executive, put this down to the increase of Northland’s population during the hot summer months and more people heading outdoors to enjoy the sunshine: “As the temperatures swell in December and January, so do the number of people visiting Northland. Holidaymakers and locals flock to our beaches and some get adventurous and head out to the more remote areas of the region. While we love seeing people having fun, the number of people getting into serious trouble in the water is especially concerning.”
Turnbull said the high levels of humidity throughout December and January resulted in visibility restrictions and made for some challenging flying conditions for the NEST helicopters: “The team had to use the full capability of the aircraft and other resources during a large number of flights. Our GPS routes, which detail specific altitudes and headings to be flown in certain areas of Northland, came in very useful this summer and allowed us to get on with our rescues despite the weather conditions.”
In the last week of January alone the team transported 29 patients, a mix of accident and emergency, from the small rural communities of Northland to both Whangarei and Auckland hospitals. The Trust noted that there been the rise in rescues after midnight compared to previous years, with the team attending 33 rescues in the early hours of the morning during January.
All patients transported by NEST are looked after by specialised St John intensive care paramedics who travel alongside the service on every rescue mission.