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New air ambulance to be based in Nelson

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The Flying Doctor Service is excited to announce a new $3 million air ambulance that will be stationed at Nelson Airport.

This addition is significant because more than half of the service’s missions last year took off from Nelson. In total, the service completed 1,289 missions across New Zealand, with 651 originating from Nelson.

One person who unexpectedly needed the air ambulance was Mark Sullivan, an Anglican vicar and pilot. In August 2022, while flying back to Christchurch from Blenheim, his plane crashed near Murchison. He was rescued by two helicopters, including one piloted by a friend, which brought him to Nelson Hospital with severe injuries, including damage to his jaw, lost teeth, severed hand tendons, and a head injury.

Due to the seriousness of his injuries, Sullivan needed to be quickly transported to Christchurch for further treatment. He doesn’t recall the air ambulance flight, but he emphasized how crucial it was for his recovery, noting that a road trip would have taken much longer and been much more difficult given his condition.

Sullivan now believes that the air ambulance is one of the most underappreciated emergency services in the country. He hopes never to need it again, but finds comfort in knowing it’s there for those in need.

The Flying Doctor Service, which was founded nearly 30 years ago by Dr. David Bowie, operates out of Nelson, Greymouth, and Christchurch, and continues to be a vital part of New Zealand’s emergency services.

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