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Man recovers after chopper rescue

Published: 7:03PM Wednesday January 28, 2009 Source: ONE News

A 40-year-old Filipino man is recovering in Christchurch Hospital after a record-setting helicopter rescue.

Two South Island helicopters were involved in the operation, flying nearly 900 kilometres into the sub-Antarctic, and then refuelling at Campbell Island before getting their patient back to hospital.

The mission involved flying to a tourist ship they could not land on to pick up an injured crewman who had to be winched off the deck.

It was one of the most challenging rescues ever attempted by New Zealand pilots.
 
The crewman had crushed his hand in an air-tight door on the Bremen, leaving him with potentially life threatening injuries, but far from any hospital.

"The ship was in reasonably big seas," rescue pilot Graeme Gale says.

"There was about a six metre swell, so the ship was rolling and pitching at the same time. It meant co-ordination between the winchman, the crewman, the pilot and also waiting on the people on the deck to hook up the patient."

After the 1,800 kilometre round-trip, the injured crewman spent a night at Southland Hospital before being transferred to Christchurch, where he is now recovering after an operation to his right arm.

As for the 120 tourists on board the Bremen, most are headed back to Germany after their trip to the sub-Antarctic seas was abandoned. ONE News has been told they will be fully refunded for losing out on their trip of a lifetime.

The cruise liner itself is sailing straight back to South America to stay on schedule for another cruise next month.

Gale, meanwhile, is in no hurry to repeat his experience.

"Don't ask me to go if there's another one out there, because I wouldn't...it's as simple as that."

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