Whangarei man Lars Christensen could not be more thankful.
In a year of change, in the midst of a global pandemic, Lars is thanking his lucky stars for the care provided by the paramedics and pilots of the Northland Rescue Helicopter who for him, were an important part in saving his life just weeks ago.
In early September, Lars ended up in hospital feeling breathless and with a tight chest. Following extensive testing, it was deemed he had asthma as the enzyme that is released into the body when a heart attack occurs was barely present in his blood results. Sent home with the instruction to medicate and rest, Lars thought it would be ok.
The following weekend the chest pains returned.
“I went to get out of bed and nearly passed out – the chest pains returned and I took the inhaler, and then some panadol to help manage the pain. I went back to bed but couldn’t get back to sleep,” says Lars.
The following morning, September 7 and Father’s Day, Lars celebrated with his family while still feeling unwell – with the pain building in his chest and the pressure on his chest increasing until he knew something was definitely not right.
“I was crook all day. I said to my partner that I think I needed to go to hospital so she ran me up and once we were there, things moved fast.
“The young doctor who saw me told me that the enzyme in my system was reading at 560. The week before it was 16. I should not have been alive still,” Lars says.
“Within a short space of time, they told me I needed to prepare to be flown to Auckland Hospital for surgery.”
This is where the urgency became more emotional – with Auckland still in the grips of a COVID-19 cluster breakout and still in a form of lockdown, Lars told his partner and family to stay put in Whangarei for their own protection.
“The hospital staff had made a few phone calls and within no time I was being prepared to be flown to Auckland. I told my partner and my son not to come down with me – she really wanted to fly with me but it just wasn’t worth the risk.”
A short time later, and on his own, he was flown to Auckland Hospital where a stent was inserted into his right artery.
“I’d had 100 percent blockage of my right artery – doctors told me there had been about an eight percent chance of surviving this and I was one of the lucky ones. I truly believe that it was through the doctors care at both hospitals, and also the speed in which I was able to be transported to Auckland, that saved my life.
“The rescue helicopter absolutely helped save my life. No doubt. The staff and pilots in the helicopter are just so professional – what amazing people.”
Already this year, the Northland Rescue Helicopters have responded to 891 call outs, a substantial increase from last year and each day the calls continue. Whether it’s an accident, a medical emergency; an injury; an urgent hospital transfer or one of many other reasons for a flight or rescue, the Northland Rescue Helicopters are always ready to go, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An essential service for the Northland region – please give generously for the annual campaign as every dollar truly makes a difference.