Chopper rescues girl after branch stuck deep in her leg

Luke Parker
Chopper rescues girl after branch stuck deep in her leg

“Everyone is the kind of person that could need this service one day. So if you can, pay if forward.”

This is what Linda Dunn has to say about the amazing service the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter, after her 9-year-old daughter Yasmin was rescued off Rakino Island in the Hauraki Gulf.

The family had been there on holiday for a couple of days when Yasmin and her older siblings went exploring and found a tree hut in thick bush along a narrow track.

Yasmin and Linda Dunn

Yasmin and Linda Dunn

Linda says Yasmin started running back to tell her what they’d found and tripped over a sapling stump in the middle of the path.

“She must have been running quite fast because we gather she fell forward and somehow her bent leg travelled sideways and got hooked up with a tree branch that was on the side of the path.

“A branch off that had been pruned jagged-like into a point which pierced straight into Yasmin’s calf muscle. She was stuck there with the branch stuck inside her leg.”

She says its diameter was approximately 5cms wide and it had gone in around 7cms or 8cms deep.

“It was really stuck in there. When I got to her, I could actually see the fatty layer coming out, like an orangey sort of substance pushed out of the leg. It was pretty horrendous to see.”

Her first thought was how are we going to get to hospital?

“If you’ve ever been in a small boat, it bangs up and down on waves when you’re going along. I was thinking it was going to be absolutely traumatic for her.”

As locals tried to help, Yasmin had to balance on her elbows and one knee with her left leg pinned to the branch.

“She had to stay in that position and hold herself up using all her strength to try not to move. Any small movement was causing her a significant amount of pain. She just howled with pain.”

Finally someone yelled, “the chopper’s coming, the chopper’s on its way.”

“This was best feeling as a mum,” Linda says. “Those magic words when I realised someone else was going to come and help and they were going to know what to do.”

By this time, one of the locals had used garden loppers to chop the branch for the transfer to Auckland’s Starship Hospital.

“It was still sticking out of her leg but the doctors gave her some serious pain relief for the journey.”

Linda is sure the treatment of her daughter’s leg wouldn’t have been as easily done if they hadn’t gotten to the hospital so quickly.

“They had all the facilities needed in the chopper - it was like a hospital with propellers.”

She says with the Westpac Chopper Appeal kicking off in May, every little bit that people give can makes a big difference.

“To people who haven’t had to use the service yet, I’m saying pay if forward. You don’t know when that could be – it could be a medical event for someone who’s older, or it could be an accident for your children, and as soon as you need them, you’re just so grateful.”


 2018 Westpac Chopper Appeal launch – May 1, 2018

Running throughout May, the Westpac Chopper Appeal is supported by fundraising activities in schools and community centres, as well as a nationwide street appeal on Friday May 18.

The Chopper Appeal aims to raise funds and continued awareness for the rescue helicopter services with all donations going back to the region they are collected from.

More than 7000 missions were undertaken by local rescue helicopters around the country last year.

Westpac funds the marketing and administration costs of the Appeal, and distributes all of the funds raised back to donors’ local rescue helicopter trust.

Go to for more information and to donate.

Ways you can donate this Chopper Appeal:

• at any Westpac Branch
• online at
• text your postcode to 2449 to make a $3 donation.*

Westpac is the principal sponsor of the Auckland, Waikato, Wellington and Canterbury Westpac rescue helicopters.

The annual Westpac Chopper Appeal helps raise funds for all regional rescue helicopter services around New Zealand.

*For text donations, additional network charges may apply. 100% of your donation goes to your local chopper. Terms and conditions apply, to view please visit

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