A routine dinner out at his mother-in-law’s house almost turned to tragedy for Whangarei man Wes Fieldhouse after he was hit head-on while riding a motorbike on his way home at night – and if it wasn’t for the quick response of Northland’s Rescue Helicopters, his leg might have been lost forever.
In the lead-up to the Westpac Chopper Appeal throughout the month of May, Wes is encouraging people to get behind their local chopper and give generously as you never know when you’ll need it.
He recalls the evening of his accident clearly.
“I was riding home from my mother-in-law’s house in Parua Bay and I came around a corner to where a couple of guys in their cars were drifting - and boom, I was hit head on,” he says.
“I had a very badly broken leg and overall was not in a good state. I had compound fractures in my femur and tibia, and a fractured fibula – pretty much my whole leg was smashed and my foot was gone. I was taken by ambulance to Whangarei Base Hospital where I had urgent surgery to stabilise the leg and stay overnight, but by the next morning the decision was made to fly me to Auckland Hospital where I needed complicated surgery that couldn’t be done here in Whangarei.”
At this stage, Wes says his injuries meant he needed specialist medical attention and fast.
“I was taken to Middlemore Hospital via the rescue chopper. Every minute helps in situations like these and this was certainly the case. If I’d had to be transported for two plus hours by road, my leg would have been gone. The Northland Rescue Helicopter ensured I got down to Auckland as quickly as possible and straight into surgery. If it wasn’t for that helicopter, I don’t think I would have my leg today.”
Photo: Emma Davies
Still recovering from the incident, he says he’s forever grateful for the efficient and speedy service given to him by one of Northland’s rescue choppers.
“For me, having the chance to use that service was absolutely incredible. It was a very serious injury and I know I would have lost more than just a foot, I am sure of that.”
After returning to Whangarei Base Hospital from his stay in Auckland Hospital, he often thought about the chopper and how it saves lives on a regular basis.
“Funnily enough, each time the chopper would land at the hospital after that, the curtains in my room would fly around and I would smell the fuel. My room was near where it landed and I always thought about who was in the chopper that time and what may have happened. We are very lucky to have such a dedicated service in Northland, and I urge anyone out there to support it however you can."