Copter service ‘absolutely essential’ - Bay of Plenty Times

Patient rescued by Westpac Rescue Helicopter tells story.

Five months after a horrific accident, Toby Olaussen is still feeling the effects - and he says the "absolutely essential" Westpac Rescue Helicopter was crucial in getting him to safety.

The Westpac helicopter is holding a lottery to win a Shelby GT Premium Mustang, with proceeds going to fund the rescue service.

On February 13, Auckland’s Olaussen was with his colleagues and their families, and his partner Carol, at their Tairua beach bach for a teambuilding exercise.

The raging storm sent an oak tree tumbling into the side of his house.

He said the tree was "snapped down at the trunk, which is just amazing, I’ve never seen that before in my whole life ... the whole tree leant over towards the house".

"We heard a thump, and the whole house kind of moved a little bit ... a couple of branches pierced through two windows.

"So we needed to do something about it."

The group, who work in construction, decided to try to move the tree off the house.

In trying to move the tree, it became clear some branches were stuck in the bathroom window and would need to be removed.

"So I went up in the tree with my chainsaw to cut that specific branch off and then get the tree off."

This would prove a fateful decision for Olaussen, as he says the storm took exception to his behaviour.

"When I was up in the tree with my chainsaw, the storm decides, ‘I don’t like what you’re doing. I’m gonna throw you and the tree down’."

The tree fell with Olaussen inside, and he was caught between two branches.

"What really damaged me was that the upper branch in the fork I was sitting [in] broke, and sandwiched me in between the two branches."

The fall left Olaussen with a broken pelvis, dislocated hip, and seriously damaged his left leg.

"To this day, I still haven’t got sensation and mobility back in my left foot."

An ambulance was quickly called, but they didn’t have the capability to treat Olaussen’s condition, and decided to call in the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

He was slipping in and out of consciousness due to the pain as he was carried down to the Tairua rugby club to await the chopper.

On the flight to Auckland Hospital, Olaussen came to again, to a surreal experience.

"I was sort of slightly, I guess, affected by the drugs or whatever it was, but I thought I was in heaven."

He "came to his senses" when he realised his partner, Carol, was there with him holding his hand.

"There was a guy sitting next to me, and he basically gave me a thumbs up and said ... ‘you’re all good mate, we’ve got your back’, or something along those lines."

He said the helicopter team were extremely professional as they handed him off to the hospital.

He said the services the helicopter provides are "absolutely essential" for New Zealand.

"I think that if they wouldn’t [have] come with a chopper, it would have been much more difficult to get me to a hospital that can deal with me.

"There are so many places in this country where people are out skiing or hunting or trekking or boating, or whatever they do, that is simply not accessible for any other services than a chopper."

He had clear advice to deliver to the public - "don’t climb up in a tree in a storm".

"Someone is looking after me, so I’m still on this planet."