Denis’ Story

Denis’ Story

Having overseas visitors from England to stay was a good opportunity for Denis Gadd to show the avid tramping enthusiasts New Zealand’s walking tracks, but he never thought one of their holiday stories would include his own dramatic, life-saving flight off the Tongariro Crossing.

Denis, his wife and their four British friends set off to Mt Ruapehu one day in February with the New Zealanders keen to show off what this country has to offer. A shuttle was organised to take the party of friends to the start of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and pick them up at the end of it some eight hours later.

Some time into the walk, Denis started to feel a bit dizzy. This was the first indication that anything was wrong with him. His fellow trampers could see he wasn’t quite himself and Denis sensibly decided to call it a day and make his way back down, but the plan came to an abrupt halt some minutes later when he started experiencing severe chest pain.

A quick phone call was made to the emergency call centre. The pain subsided but then there were two further attacks with the third going on a lot longer than the first two and worryingly, this time, not stopping. There was no way Denis was going to get off the mountain.

“Suddenly I heard a chopper!” said Denis. “When I heard that chopper it was a really big relief! I don’t remember feeling scared or that I was going to die but obviously if the chopper hadn’t arrived I would have, because apparently my heart stopped.”

The Youthtown Trust Rescue Helicopter was quickly on the scene when the 111 call came through as they were on the mountain already and only 10 minutes away from saving Denis’ life.
Intermediate Life Support Paramedic Tony More, jumped out of the helicopter and rushed over to assist Denis who had arrested. With no time to lose, Tony gave him CPR and three shocks with the defibrillator, which started his heart beating again.

Denis was loaded into the helicopter but his heart stopped again, so the defibrillator was needed once more with another three shocks and about 10 minutes of more life saving CPR by Tony. There was an ambulance at the bottom of the mountain waiting for the helicopter to land where medics administered drugs and the decision was made to fly him to the nearest hospital because he was too critical to be taken by ambulance. He was flown immediately to Taupo Hospital and later the Westpac Waikato Air Ambulance, with specialist crew onboard, transferred Denis to Waikato Hospital where he spent four days recovering.

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