From fundraising to a life-saving flight


The Lile family, who farm on the outskirts of Te Awamutu, are proof of the old adage that one good turn deserves another. The Liles had recently fundraised for the Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter utilising social media and several hay bales for their marketing idea.

Only days later, after the chopper team had visited the family’s farm to lend their support to their fabulous fundraising effort, the crew were tasked to a farm where a young girl had been in an altercation with a cow and was seriously injured. The helicopter crew was surprised to learn that they were flying back to the Lile farm.

As Lisa Lile explains: “It was completely ironic that we had just delivered the money from our small fundraising effort on the Friday and the crew flew into our place on a rescue mission on the Sunday. It makes it truly real.”

Lisa’s 12-year-old daughter, Hayley, had been helping her parents move stock that afternoon. Her mum was riding beside her on the motorbike when one of the cows decided it had walked far enough.

“I could see the behaviour of the cow change, so I told Hayley to stand very still,” said Lisa.

Lisa’s intuition was spot on. Within a split second, the animal turned and attacked, throwing Hayley up against the back of a trailer. The cow was relentless in its pursuit, “like a ruck in a rugby maul,” remembers Lisa. Hayley saw her chance to escape when the cow took a short breather but her attempt to scramble onto her mum’s bike was futile as the cow had recovered sufficiently to renew its attack.

Lisa managed to kick the cow in the neck to release Hayley. “I dragged Hayley onto the bike and we just floored it to the next gateway with the cow in pursuit,” said Lisa, who by now was working on adrenaline. She pulled Hayley off the bike, picked her up under her arm and took a leap of faith over the gate to safety.

Hayley immediately collapsed on the ground and a desperate call went out to 111. “The rescue helicopter was landing on our property as the ambulance arrived,” said Lisa. “To get here so quickly was incredible.” Lisa’s heart was sinking at the thought of the awful injuries Hayley may have sustained that weren’t immediately apparent. Attending paramedics quickly dispelled Lisa’s fears that her actions during the drama had done more harm to her daughter’s injuries than good.

“The helicopter crew took great care of her, made sure she was comfortable in every possible way and were just spectacular.”

“The trauma team thought they would be faced with someone in a coma or needing life support when they heard of the trauma victim being flown to Waikato Hospital,” she said. Hayley’s injuries ranged from massive internal and external bruising, ligament damage to her hip and pelvic area and a mild brain injury.

“Our experience with everybody from the crew on the ground to those in the air, was just phenomenal; it was just out of this world,” said Lisa gratefully.