A trip to look for freshwater crayfish almost spelled the end of Kourtney Hawkes’ life back in 2017.

Chatting to the year nine Ruawai College student nowadays you wouldn’t imagine anything of the sort given how bubbly and healthy she is.

But on October 2, 2017, it was a vastly different story on the family’s Hukatere dairy farm.

Suffering internal bleeding, liver lacerations and collapsed lungs (and later life-threatening clots in her liver and lungs), Kourtney’s parents Mouse and Nicola had an agonising one hour and forty-minute wait before any type of emergency help arrived. Shortly after that was when they heard the beat of the rotors from one of the Northland Rescue Helicopters.

“Mouse and I have always been passionate about the Northland Rescue Helicopters. Mouse grew up in Hukatere on the farm and when Nicola moved out to the farm, she realised it was a little bit remote if something ever was to happen – even before we had to use it,” says Kourtney’s Mum Nicola.

“I know that without the helicopter we would not have Kourtney today. I vividly remember getting into the chopper. It was quite a windy day and I remember the team saying that we had no other option for her but to go to Starship Hospital.”

Nicola says there were 11 people ready to work on Kourtney when they walked through the doors at Starship. First up was a blood transfusion due to the damage from two liver lacerations and other internal trauma.

“I was there alone with Kourtney. The medics from the Northland Rescue Helicopter stayed for quite some time while Kourtney was being worked on, which made me feel safe. It was the worst time of my life but those people who flew us to safety made it better.

“On the outside, Kourtney only had three scratches on her, one on her chin and two on the side of her face but you could hear she was struggling to breathe. I thought we were going to lose her there on the kitchen floor while we waited for emergency services.”

While Kourtney made a full recovery physically, it took months, and the incident still takes a toll on her mentally at times.

People often forget that just because you are healed physically, the emotional and mental trauma continues for some time – says Nicola.

Kourtney says her memory of the accident is falling backwards while on the bike but not letting go.

“Next thing I was lying on the kitchen floor. I could not see anything. It was pitch black even though my eyes were open,” says Kourtney.

For the Hawkes family, the crews at the Northland Rescue Helicopter service will always hold a special place in their hearts and they remain forever grateful for the care they received that day.


Author Sarah

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