Throughout the month of March, the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter in Taupo, New Zealand completed around 50 missions, which is a significant increase on previous years, given that the month is generally referred to as a ‘quiet period’ between summer and winter, when the central plateau region doesn’t have quite so many visitors.
In terms of the kinds of accidents the team is being called to, Nat Every, a pilot with the organisation, said that there had been more motor vehicle crashes, with critical injuries being sustained in remote areas. Furthermore, he pointed out that there has been an increase in accidents on the country’s Cycleway System, promoted by Tourism New Zealand, and while these are typically for less severe injuries, they are often in remote regions. He also noted there were more people getting lost in remote bush areas of the country, who required help from the specialist rescue helicopter team. One such mission involved a night search on Mt Ruapehu that saw the crews make use of the night vision goggles and FLIR system. Every commented: “The search was for a lightly clad, poorly equipped, inexperienced hiker, who has set out on foot during the warmth of the day for a short hike following one of the chairlift lines. It’s only April, and already the temperature was rapidly approaching zero degrees. In a mountainous environment with the potential for weather to change dramatically, a time critical response is essential. As is a crew with an intimate knowledge of the area who are able to quickly and efficiently assess the conditions and safely conduct a search of what is a huge area in incredible challenging conditions.”
Image © Greenlea Rescue Helicopter