Family connection for young girl saved by rescue helicopter

Family connection for young girl saved by rescue helicopter

Every year Northland's rescue helicopters provide life-saving transport to 800 patients across the province.

In total, the choppers fly more than 300,000 kilometres a year – roughly seven times around the world.

But for one Northland family, the service is much more than a bunch of big numbers. For them it's a lifesaver, having rescued three different family members in less than 10 years. Story was there when the chopper touched down to pick up a fourth.

The accident happened last month as eight-year-old Ella Knight was walking home from the school bus stop near her house in rural Mangonui.

She had two brain bleeds and had fractured her ribs, shoulder blade and pelvis. Paramedics quickly decided she needed to get to hospital fast.

Ella was flown to Whangarei, then on to Starship Hospital in Auckland.

For Ella's mother, Amber, the rescue was a dramatic reminder of her own hour of need 10 years ago.

"I was eight months pregnant and I went to Kaitaia Hospital, and apparently my blood pressure was through the roof," says Ms Knight. "I drove myself in and they were surprised I hadn't had a stroke, so they flew me straight down to Whangarei and I had an emergency caesarean the next day."

So in the space of 10 years, three members of the family owe their health, if not lives, to the services of the busy rescue helicopter. Even Ella's dad, Terry, has a connection.

"I'm in the Mangonui volunteer fire brigade, so every now and then we deal with these guys – the chopper and landing them and helping to lift patients in, things like that."

Watch the video for the full Story report.