Dirk Annemans had just returned home to Rawene after his second trip to and from Auckland in two days. He was helping a friend to transport a car between locations and was happy to finally put his feet up. He had no idea that in just a few hours he would be making another trip down south—this time in the Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopter and fighting for his life.
“That’s the thing,” says Dirk. “I was just an ordinary person doing an everyday thing when it happened.”
Dirk arrived home feeling like most of us would after two long distance trips. But knowing her husband, Irma was beginning to think that his lethargy and loss of appetite were down to something more serious. He was beginning to feel unwell and thought it was a good idea to go for a check up.
“It was crazy,” says Dirk. “They hooked me up to a heart monitor and told me that my heart was beating at 240 beats per minute – that’s 4 beats per second!”
Steve and Paul, the medical team at Rawene Hospital that attended to Dirk, established intravenous lines to deliver medication that could stabilise him and bring his heart rate down. They had already decided that Dirk should be transferred to Whangarei Hospital, but making the trip in the rescue helicopter with such a high heart rate would not do him any favours.
After an hour and a half, Dirk’s heart beat was still fluctuating.
“I coughed and it went down to 78 beats for ten minutes and then back up to 228,” say Dirk. “I’m not exactly sure what happened next, as I was heavily medicated, but I know that Irma was impressed with the guys on the helicopter.”
Although it all occured in November 2012, Irma says that it is still very difficult to talk about what happened. However, they both want to make people aware of the rescue helicopter and encourage everyone to give generously during the appeal.
“I went with Dirk on the helicopter and it was very stressful,” she says.
“The doctors, pilots and paramedics all understood the dire situation that we were in and they were very caring and supportive.”
Dirk used to wave to the Northland Electricity Rescue Helicopter as it flew over their house every couple of days on its way to help someone, not for a minute thinking that it would one day be him up there.
“Please support the rescue helicopter during this appeal – give as much or as little as you can. Every dollar helps,” says Dirk.
“You just never know when you might need them and we should be grateful to have them around – they save lives. In a phone call, they can be right there with you and then get you to the place that you need to be, quickly.”