22 Feb 2024
Brian and his dog Jessie

In the rugged wilderness of the Pureora Forest, Brian, a seasoned hunter and heavy truck driver, embarked on a three-night hunting expedition in the north side of the forest. Little did he know that his adventure would take an unexpected turn on the very first day.

Setting out from his camp at 6am, Brian, accompanied by his trusty dog Jessie, headed North in pursuit of deer and pigs. With no luck North, the pair came back to camp for lunch, and then headed South.

Brian caught the scent of a deer and began tracking it through the dense bush. However, fate had a different plan for Brian.

While navigating the challenging terrain, Brian stepped onto a wet log, losing his footing and slipping heavily to the ground. Determined to make it back to camp, which was three kilometers away, Brian tried to soldier on through the bush despite the pain in his injured knee.

After realising the severity of his situation, and the pain he was in... Brian made a crucial decision to activate his Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) and find an open space for rescue. Waiting in a small clearing for 40 minutes under the sun, Brian initially hoped for a ground patrol to find him. To his surprise, the distinct sound of a rescue helicopter echoed through the forest.

However, the dense canopy made it challenging for your Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter crew to locate him. Resourceful and desperate for help, Brian could hear the rescue helicopter above, but realised they couldn’t spot him.

“I leant over to a nearby tree from where I was laying and shook the branches as hard as my energy could muster, to capture the crew's attention” says Brian. The highly-skilled rescue helicopter crew spotted the shaking branches and immediately prepared and deployed the winch, with Critical Care Flight Paramedic - Ray descending to assess Brian's injuries.

CCFP Ray attended to Brian’s injured and swollen knee, and then with his faithful dog, Brian and Jessie were winched up to the rescue helicopter. Once Brian and his dog were safely on-board, CCFP Ray was then winched with Brian’s hunting rifle.

“In all my years on the Rescue Helicopter, it was a first for me to be winching a dog up to the helicopter! That’s the beauty of this job – you never know what will happen on a shift” says CCFP Ray.

Brian and Jessie were then transported back to their camp and vehicle, where they spent the night, with his knee strapped and elevated and equipped with a medical grade first aid kit. Brian could successfully manage his pain, and the following day he packed up camp and headed home.

Brian is forever grateful for his timely rescue. He has been donating to the rescue helicopter service for the past ten years, and now has first-hand experience of the life-saving work your Waikato Westpac Rescue Helicopter does.

Reflecting on his experience, Brian emphasises the importance of having items on hand to attract rescuers' attention. He specifically mentioned the need for a strobe light torch. “You never think you will need rescuing, but boy when you do, it is so good to know that the rescue helicopter and crew are there for you” says a grateful Brian.