Speedy Specialist Treatment saves Life


Raymond McKie speaks from the heart. As the minister at Knox Presbyterian Church in Fitzroy, he ensures his weekly sermons are heartfelt, delivered with faith and passion to his congregation.

But this year on Good Friday, it was Raymond’s heart that saw him needing urgent care from the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter. Thanks to the generous support of the Taranaki community which keeps our Rescue Helicopter in the sky, Raymond received the care he needed in time.

“I felt perfectly normal when I woke up,” recalls Raymond of that Easter morning. “But as I was coming up the stairs from the garage, I broke out in a sweat and my chest started to tighten in pain. I felt like I needed to vomit and knew straight away I was having a heart attack.”

Such was the seriousness of Raymond’s heart attack, a ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction (STEMI), that the ambulance staff responding to Raymond’s wife Karen’s 111 call, quickly administered special ‘clot busting’ drugs called fibrinolytics. These work to break down the clots and restore blood flow to the heart, temporarily reducing the heart attack. But Raymond still required urgent, time-sensitive specialist treatment. As this treatment is available at Waikato Hospital, the ambulance immediately sent for the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter.

With time being of the essence, the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter landed on the local soccer field, close to the McKie family’s Westown home. Knowing the gravity of the situation, the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter crew had Raymond airborne as quickly as possible, but his condition meant the crew needed to fly at a lower altitude than normal to ensure there wasn’t excess pressure on Raymond’s heart. “The crewman kept me calm by pointing out some great spots in King Country. I was at total peace with the whole process and had full trust in the helicopter and ambulance staff,” Raymond says.

Forty-five minutes later, Raymond arrived at Waikato Hospital. “By the time I landed, I was feeling chest pains again. But I was seen by a cardiologist immediately and, 15 minutes after we landed, I had a stent put into my heart.” Raymond is extremely thankful to the ambulance paramedics and the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter team.

“Their speediness saved my life,” he says. “If it wasn’t for the Rescue Helicopter, and the fact that people in the community donate to it, who knows what would’ve happened.”