It was a very eventful Sunday that led to two rescues.
The track wasn’t a track in a number of places, sometimes crossing rock-falls, sometimes defaulting to ‘rock-hopping’ on the river bank, sometimes disappearing into the river and sometimes requiring scrambling over side-streams that tumbled through huge boulders and over flat stones. It was at two of these side-streams that the rescues were called for.
At one, as I made my way across the side-streamI almost stepped on this handsome fellow who was partly submerged in the clear water tumbling down to the Styx. Even though I had recently seen that dragonflies had a very short life expectancy after a particular activity I still felt this guy needed should have a chance so I eased him out and placed him on an exposed rock to recover. Job done.
Some way further on and another side-stream to negotiate, this happened and the rest is history!
But on the same day our national emergency air rescue services were called on for another winch recovery in the Wairoa Gorge (near Nelson) which involved a seriously injured tramper who had lost his footing and fallen a total of 10m to a rocky stream-bed. In this case, as with as ours the rescue helicopter crew carried out their job efficiently and another (I’m sure) grateful tramper was delivered quickly to base hospital services that could well have been life-saving.
New Zealand’s Rescue Helicopters have been seen for many years in New Zealand’s skies and people will have wondered, at least for a moment as they fly overhead, “I wonder where they’re off to [this time]?” and possibly mused on a range of scenarios before getting on with their own lives and barely giving a second thought to the drama signaled by the passing chopper. There are, of course hundreds of people who know exactly where they were ‘off to’ and are thankful that the service was available to come to their assistance.
The joke that the policeman had with Monica on her arrival at the Greymouth Hospital on Sunday does touch on a very important issue, of course. How are these services funded? Because of the growth in ‘user pays’ as a philosophy in New Zealand many people would be of the view that if you use it you should pay for it. That’s probably fine until it actually involves one personally then this seems a terrible idea. It’s an idea that loses its flavour if anyone in your immediate family or circle of friends requires their help, too. I would imagine many take the view that it is a service that should be funded by the government but as many would probably feel this isn’t an appropriate use of their tax dollar because they don’t go tramping, or skiing, or similar out-of-doors activities that involve risk and comprise a decent chunk of the most public call-outs the rescue helicopters make. What does this leave? Donations and public fund-raising. Good idea but who’s going to man the raffle tables, who’s going to carry the buckets up and down our towns’ and cities’ streets- the aircrews? police who co-ordinate SAR operations? family members of and those who have been saved? All possibilities but truthfully these amounts would be peanuts and would hardly fund the uniforms let alone the hi-tech hardware and software that our ‘air-angels’ use (and this stuff is both VERY impressive and VERY costly.)
Fortunately the government DOES stump up with funding, but only in part. The other part is comprised of sponsorship and public funding (donations). The list of business sponsorships is long and doubtless with various tiers of funding and the roll-call of public donors is, I’m sure extensive but there is always a need for more. I know I’m going to stump up and add this service to the (short) list of charities I donate to- I hope that you might, too.
Again huge thanks to Diane, Stu and Angus. Job done.