Located on the shores of Lake Maraetai in Mangakino. Keith and a couple of friends were spending the day felling large pine trees.
As they were working through the wood, Keith’s friend was chain-sawing through a stump when suddenly the chainsaw kicked back, swung out and around behind him, unfortunately hitting Keith who was in its path.
“The blade of the chainsaw hit Keith’s left upper-arm, severing a main artery and nerves.” says Kay, Keith’s wife.
“Luckily it didn't hit the bone or go right through. Those there, said Keith seemed to throw himself back several feet to escape the chainsaw’s path, he landed down the bank against trees, right on the lake's edge, I think a reflex action as he saw the blade come at him.” Kay said.
Reacting quickly, Keith’s friends grabbed the insulation tape that Keith always carried with him for such emergencies. They applied pressure to his wound, attempting to stem the bleeding caused by the severed artery. Meanwhile, a bystander called emergency services.
“Keith doesn't remember hearing the chopper coming in to land, but I was enroute in the car with a friend when I saw the Greenlea Rescue Helicopter coming in from Taupo.
“Once I got near the scene where Keith was lying down the bank, I saw one of the rescue helicopter crew with a shovel, digging steps out of the dirt bank so they could carry the stretcher up from the lake's edge and get Keith to the chopper - that really moved me.” said Kay
Once the rescue helicopter crew stabilised Keith for flight, Kay was able to travel to hospital with him in the rescue helicopter. It was a short flight of 20-minutes compared to a drive of close to an hour and a half.
“I did enjoy the view despite the situation! The crew were very kind and caring towards both Keith and I. The rescue helicopter crewman remained with me right up until Keith was taken through to the operating theatre, and ensured I was shown to the whanau room at E.D to wait for family to arrive. They were all so sensitive to my needs and fears.” Kay said
Since the accident, Keith’s recovery journey has been ongoing, his arm was saved, and Keith continues physiotherapy treatments on a fortnightly basis.
“The work carried out by the rescue helicopter service is nothing short of remarkable. If the chopper hadn't been there that day, Keith may not have survived...or he may have lost his arm altogether.
“They are amazing people, our saviors in the skies. True heroes!” says a very grateful Kay.