Caroline will forever be grateful for her life-saving, time-critical flight


On a busy Friday morning in May, Caroline, a fit Mum in her 40’s, was going about her usual routine of getting her kids ready for school, when suddenly, her world was turned upside down...Caroline collapsed, suffering a massive stroke, her children were shocked and alarmed at seeing their active mum lying in front of them unable to speak.

“As soon as I collapsed, I realised I was having a stroke due to the FAST acronym I’d learned recently on a first aid course! My face felt strange, I couldn’t lift my arm, my speech was deteriorating, and the left side of my body started to stop working.

“I managed to tell my husband I was having a stroke but then I couldn’t make any more sound after that.  I remember feeling so worried about my kids having to see me like that and seeing the panic on their faces” says Caroline

Caroline and her husband run a local motel, and thankfully for the distressed family, it is located just 5 minutes away from Tauranga Hospital. Arriving at the Emergency Department, Caroline’s condition continued to deteriorate... losing total movement in the left side of her body, plus losing the ability to speak or open her eyes.  

“A scan showed I had a clot at the base of my brain so they thrombolysed me, and though some improvement was noted they decided I needed the expert neurological team in Auckland to provide further treatment,” says Caroline.  

The Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter was tasked to transport with speed, critically ill Caroline to Auckland City Hospital.

With the help of the highly skilled rescue helicopter crew on board, Caroline was swiftly transported, where the specialised medical-surgical team awaited her.

“Within a few short hours of first experiencing the stroke, I found myself onboard the rescue helicopter, heading towards Auckland. Despite the urgency of the situation, the rescue helicopter pilot and critical care flight paramedic remained calm, reassuring, and even injected moments of lightheartedness into what felt like an overwhelmingly traumatic day.” says a grateful Caroline

“The thrombolysing process had shrunk the clot and my condition had improved slightly. However, as the clot was still there, I remember the doctor saying he recommended he take it out or it would be like a ticking time bomb, after I’d agreed, within what felt like minutes I was in the theatre being prepped for surgery.

“As soon as I woke up, I could talk, move, and call my husband... who was still in the car on his way up to Auckland from Tauranga!

“He couldn’t believe that his wife who’d been barely talking, was already sitting up asking to have some food!! 

“Thanks to the efficiency of the rescue helicopter, I arrived in Auckland so quickly. This proved to be life-saving for me.

“Not only did the speed of my arrival in Auckland play a crucial role in saving my life, but it also contributed to me quickly regaining my mobility and speech,” says Caroline

Caroline looks back on this harrowing experience with deep gratitude for the availability and speed of the rescue helicopter. The skill, expertise, and quick response allowed her to have an amazing outcome and quickly access the life-saving treatment she needed.

After further treatment, Caroline has made a full recovery and can now continue to be there for her two young children.

As Caroline reflects on her extraordinary journey, she cherishes the invaluable presence of the rescue helicopter and the remarkable individuals who make it all possible.

“Moved by this life-changing experience, I am dedicated to supporting the incredible service provided by the rescue helicopter team.  I urge everyone to donate in the hope that more lives, just like mine, can be saved.

“Having firsthand knowledge of how time is of the essence during a stroke, I understand the importance and critical role the rescue helicopter service plays in enabling a high quality of life after an event like mine,” says Caroline

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