Waiheke Rotary awarded for helipad

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Lifesaver: A St John Ambulance and Westpac Rescue Helicopter park on the dedicated landing pad on Waiheke that recently saw Waiheke Rotary Club awarded first place for best project.

The development of a rescue helicopter landing pad on Waiheke has won Waiheke Rotary Club a first place for best project.
The Waiheke club is one of 53 in Rotary District 9920 that comprises the largest maritime district in the world. At Australia’s Gold Coast hotel and casino Jupiters, five assistant governors from Rotary District 9920 each presented the project they had deemed best.
Waiheke Rotary Club’s helicopter pad project was announced the winner.
The district governor will present the award to club president Sherryn El Bakary when she hands over the Waiheke Rotary Club presidency. A new president is elected every year.
“We made the finals but to win it was a real treat. I was ecstatic. The Westpac Rescue Helicopter is a vital service,” said Ms El Bakary.
Up to a quarter of all Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust missions are flown to Waiheke each year, says Westpac Rescue Helicopter Trust spokeswoman Leanda Hunt.
“Since the development of the dedicated helipad at Waiheke we would now use that site in around 70% of cases.”
Inclusion of a sealed road means St John ambulance crews can easily access the all-weather helipad.
Auckland City Council originally quoted more than $100,000 for construction of the helipad and access road.
Waiheke Rotary Club resourcefulness and donations meant it cost the island nothing, says Ms El Bakary.
“Rotarians, family, friends and local constructors gave their time for nothing, Stoney Ridge Quarry gave us a lot of product for nothing so the bill came to $6000.
“And a philanthropist paid the bill so it cost the club nothing in the end.”
Construction of the helipad was barely finished when it was instrumental in saving the life of Waiheke woman Jeanette Cahill.
On 31 October Ms Cahill awoke in the early hours with a searing stab in her head caused by a brain haemorrhage. Her partner called St John Ambulance who called the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service and drove Ms Cahill to the new helipad.
She was delivered to hospital within minutes.
Doctors told her she would not have survived the subarachnoid haemorrhage if treatment had been delayed.
“I feel extremely lucky and very grateful to everyone – from my partner Wayne to St John Ambulance to the rescue helicopter service and everyone who helped care for me. I was tended to quickly so have only minor lasting complications.”
The Westpac Chopper Appeal runs throughout May. All money raised through the appeal goes to the rescue helicopter service in the area where the funds were raised. • Mark Peters

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