Chris Byrne

Dripping in his own blood, Paihia’s Christopher Byrne knew he needed help fast.

Christopher had been going about his home DIY as any good Kiwi bloke does – and was drilling a bracket off a yacht when suddenly things took a turn for the worse.

The drill bounced back and before he knew it, had ripped into his arm, even though he had been sure to keep it a distance away.

“Something went wrong,” he says of the February incident.

The drill bit had pierced the artery in his arm and blood was “squirting everywhere – and I knew I was in trouble,” he says.

“I yelled out to my flatmate to find something to use as a tourniquet, and ran to the neighbours in search of someone who could drive me to help. I was putting pressure on it but it wasn’t enough so I ran home and my flatmate had a belt ready,” he says.

They fashioned a homemade tourniquet to stop blood flow to the wound, with the neighbour adding pressure on the tourniquet with two hands, and blood flow just kept coming. Chris had his hands on the wound and was adding pressure. Everything was slippery with his blood.

“I was just lying there with blood still going everywhere. I just kept pressure on it as much as I could,” he says.

By now, an ambulance had been called and on their arrival from nearby Kerikeri, it was announced the Northland Rescue Chopper was on its way.

“My neighbour was busy helping me save my arm so couldn’t drive me anywhere.

“The details are still a bit of a blur,” says Christopher.

“They told me the helicopter was coming and I remember feeling relieved. There had been so much blood.

“The laceration ran from inside his elbow and “ran for about 5cm centimetres to near my funny bone.

“The helicopter lands about 100 metres down the road from where I live, at a local school, so it was a quick trip down to them.”

With a fresh tourniquet on his arm – his homemade blood-soaked one had been removed when the paramedics had applied a new one – the blood flow had stopped to his arm and the injury could be seen more clearly.

The race was now on to get him to hospital before “my arm died and had to be amputated.

“I was bloody lucky as I had only nipped the artery, and the tourniquets meant it had naturally started to clot by the time I was flown to Whangarei Hospital.”

Stitches and a good clean up was needed, with an overnight stay for precaution due to the level of blood loss he had suffered, and Christopher was on his way back to Paihia, with his arm still attached.

“Those rescue helicopters really do save lives. When time is of the essence, they make it anywhere quicker. Time can be so crucial and they make all the difference. I make sure I donate now – it is the least I can do. I more than appreciate the job that they do for us and donating money to them is the least I can do to say thank you. I am forever grateful.”

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