The Lifesaving Role of Roland’s Rescue Helicopter


For keen Mountain Biker Roland, a day in May last year turned into a critical situation and a whirlwind of emotions.  Roland found himself in need of urgent medical attention after a mountain biking accident at Arapuke Forest mountain bike park.  

I suffered a ruptured spleen when I fell off my bike on the hilly terrain. I was incredibly lucky to be riding with my good friend who works in the hospital system and previously in ED, which proved to be lifesaving for me that day.” said Roland. 

Spleen ruptures can be particularly dangerous because of the risk of losing too much blood through internal bleeding, the accident could have cost me my life. 

I didn't have any other injuries and most of my friends that were riding with me at the time of my injury, thought I was okay and certainly not in need of a rescue helicopter ride or even an ambulance.  

If it hadn't been for my friend that recognised how serious my condition was and who made sure it was the rescue helicopter and not an ambulance that came to get me, I may not have made it to the hospital in time for surgery.   

I later learned that I had lost over 2 litres of blood.” explains Roland of his critical injury.

Thanks to the prompt response of the Grassroots Trust Rescue Helicopter crew, I quickly received the critical care I needed.  

The sound of the rescue helicopter approaching brought me massive relief, knowing that help was on its way.  

The 8-minute flight time to the hospital was a stark contrast to the 20-minute journey down the hill and the further 45-minute drive I would have faced without their assistance. 

The professionalism and warmth of the Critical Care Flight Paramedic James and Crew onboard were a source of comfort in a very scary situation. Their quick actions and expertise were instrumental in saving my life, especially considering the severity of the internal bleeding I was experiencing.” says Roland. 

Roland was flown to Palmerston North Hospital and required emergency surgery for splenectomy. His road to recovery hasn’t been easy due to a post-operative infection, facing new challenges related to no longer having a spleen, and the blood condition that he has, Polycythemia Vera. 

Despite these challenges, I am so grateful to be back doing the activities I love, including riding my bike. 

Reflecting on the experience Roland says I was very humbled by my experience primarily because of all the people that were at the ready and able to respond in my time of need to ensure that I received the lifesaving care I needed.  

I feel deep gratitude for the rescue helicopter team and the essential role they played in saving my life. 

It doesn't really feel like, "thank you" is enough... I consider the rescue helicopter crew to be guardian angles and they were most certainly mine. I am probably like many others who didn't know they needed the rescue helicopter until I did. I now know first-hand that the rescue helicopter plays a critical role in ensuring that people in life-threatening situations get the care they need as quickly as possible.

I'm amazed that such an essential service relies on donations to keep running. The reality is that anyone at any time could need the life-saving help of the rescue helicopter crew. With that in mind, making a donation to help keep the rescue helicopter in the air... it's a no-brainer!” says a very grateful Roland. 

These are the lives you help save everyday with your supportWe can't do what we do without you. Thank you!