Taranaki, the childhood dream come true

“Never flog a…” no that’s not it. “Never look a gift horse in the mouth”, there it is.

“Presented with the opportunity to move from South Africa to New Zealand, how could one possibly say no? That was the gift on offer to Heath Gillot, the most recent recruit to the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter, an offer he was never likely to refuse.

Heath joined the crew in mid-2019 following a stint in Taupo and admits, in Taranaki, he’s truly found his place in the world.”

“It’s been a dream come true,” Heath explains. “I had always planned to travel and work, and the Middle East tends to be where most in my industry go, but the option to come to NZ was absolutely golden. With a young family, two small kids, being in an environment that combines such a great work / life culture, you can’t put a price on that.

“Being from Durban SA, the furthest I’ve ever lived from the coast was when I was in Taupo. The lake was stunning, but if the option is available, I’m always going to choose the beach.”

In his new role as an intensive care paramedic (ICP) and rescue hoist operator crewman, Heath gets to put almost 20 years of experience, skills, training and qualifications to work. And it’s the work that gives Heath the most pleasure.

“I love my job. Every day is different, and I get to spend those days outside. I’m definitely not an office person,” says Heath. “The thing I enjoy most about working in Taranaki is how involved the community gets in supporting what we do. People actually come back to thank you for helping them.”

During one of Heath’s first missions with the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter, a patient had a cardiac arrest as the helicopter took off. Heath and the crew managed to resuscitate the patient and deliver him quickly to Waikato Hospital.

“Two days later, this guy literally walks through the door to thank us, it blew my mind. He came back in just to say thank you. That happens a lot here in Taranaki which is really cool to see. The way that this community actively engages with us is really nice.”