Statement from Lakes DHB re rescue helicopter availability
15/11/2018 5:14:22 p.m.

Thursday 15 November 2018

Statement from Lakes DHB re rescue helicopter availability

“Completely without basis in fact,” is how Lakes DHB Chief Executive Ron Dunham has reacted to claims that a man who was electrocuted was unable to be choppered to hospital on Wednesday.

Ron Dunham says after checking the facts it is clear that discussions between the paramedics attending the injured man and the National Air Desk ended with a decision to transport the patient to Rotorua Hospital by road in an ambulance. The road journey took 19 minutes.

Ron Dunham says the Tauranga chopper was offline on scheduled maintenance and both Waikato and Taupo based helicopters were fully available.

“The availability of the Waikato and Taupo choppers has been confirmed independently by the National Air Desk,” said Ron Dunham.

Lakes DHB’s transport co-ordinator contacted the Taupo pilot shortly after 1pm to arrange a chopper for 2pm, provided a flight nurse could be arranged. The pilot checked back with Lakes DHB, was told a nurse was being located and the patient prepared for transfer by air.

The pilot was advised to leave Taupo Base for Rotorua Hospital just after 2pm, and arrived in Rotorua at 2.37, with an ICP paramedic (intensive care paramedic) crew person on board.

The Lakes medical team transferred the patient, departing from Rotorua shortly before 3.30 and arriving at Waikato at 3.50pm.

Ron Dunham says the claim that the rescue helicopter was ‘not available’ is incorrect, as was the claim that ‘there was only one rescue chopper available for the Bay of Plenty area most of the week’. Choppers were fully available at Hamilton and Taupo.

Ron Dunham says there have been no issues with the new service that started on 1 November, and it is disappointing when mistruths are bandied about, as they can impact the way people can have confidence in emergency services.