Speed of the essence in mountain rescue

mountain rescue

When the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter had to rescue one of ITS own last year, the crew did so with your support.

After breaking his leg while on Mt Taranaki last year, Peter Lethbridge is on a slow road to recovery, but there was nothing slow about the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter’s response to rescuing him.

“I was walking between Tahurangi Lodge and the ski field on New Year’s Eve last year when I slipped on a fine bit of gravel on a rock,” recalls Peter. “The accident happened at 2.40pm and I knew I had to get help. I called 111 at 2.45, by 3.30 the rescue helicopter crew were with me and by 4pm I was in Taranaki Base Hospital’s emergency department.

“If we didn’t have the search and rescue helicopter servicing the region, my story would be very different,” says Peter. “I would have had to endure more discomfort and more pain over several hours while waiting for ground rescuers to come to my aid.”


Peter’s story is a stark reminder of what can happen on the mountain, even to those who are prepared. Peter has over 30 years of experience with Search and Rescue, the last 15 of which have been as a volunteer in the Rescue Helicopter’s Alpine Team. “The guys certainly aren’t letting me live this down,” laughs Peter.

“But in all seriousness, my experience is a lesson for others. Take a moment to think about what you will do if something goes wrong. You’ve got 10mins of adrenaline after an accident – that’s your fight or flight period. I chose to fight. I owe a big thank you to everyone involved in my rescue,” he says. “Not just my fellow crew members who rescued me, but the hospital staff and the community.”

“Community support is central to the service the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter provides and in my case, it was life saving.” Peter Lethbridge