On picturesque farmland on the outskirts of Matamata, Annie and her eldest son were with a group enjoying a hunt on horseback, when her horse flipped, landing on top of her.  

“I was jumping a jump, giving my son a lead on his pony, and my horse flipped.  

Initially, I was unconscious.  I regained consciousness for a small period, then I seizured and went into cardiac arrest,” says Annie.  

Luckily, Annie’s two friends who are registered nurses were riding with the group that day.  

“Annie was conscious when we first got to her but then she stopped breathing, so we started CPR. She’d come around and we’d get her breathing again, but not for very long. She was really trying but her body just couldn’t do it. We were feeling desperate by the time emergency services pulled up,” says Annie’s friend of the experience.  

Realising Annie’s time-critical state, emergency services on the ground dispatched the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter, and in just a few short minutes the rescue helicopter was landing in the paddock beside Annie.  

“When we heard the rescue helicopter approaching… just that noise… was oh, hallelujah,” says the friends. It was indescribable.”  

On board the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter that day was Critical Care Flight Paramedic Dianne, who once at Annie’s side, knew she needed to keep Annie stabilised for the flight, and get her in the air and to surgery, as quickly as possible. 

“Annie was in a critical state, the crew and I knew we needed to act quickly to ensure her situation didn’t deteriorate between lift off and landing at the hospital. With the equipment on board the rescue helicopter I was able to do that, thankfully” says CCFP Dianne.  

Annie’s injuries were extensive with three broken ribs, broken bones in her shoulder, ruptured ligaments in her thumb, a brain bleed, and a severe traumatic brain injury.  

“I had a brain bleed that was like a stroke, so the left-hand side of my body didn’t work, and I had to learn to walk and talk properly again.,” says Annie of her injuries. “I’ve come a long way.” 

Annie, her husband Ben and family are eternally grateful to the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter and everyone who helped that day.  

“The whole experience has been humbling,” she said. “It’s been an amazing journey. It’s not one you want to take, but I’m lucky there is a happy ending.”  

Photo Caption – Annie and her son Tommy volunteered for the Chopper Street Appeal, helping raise funds for the crew who saved Annie’s life.  

Have you had a life-saving flight in your rescue helicopter? Our Patient Coordinator Gillian would love to talk with you – please email Gillian on [email protected] or call on 0800 11 10 10 if you would like to share your story.