A week of firsts for Samoa Helicopter

By Vatapuia Maiava ,

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FIRST SAMOAN HELICOPTER WEDDING: Jaydin Meredith arriving in style at her wedding venue, the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum.

FIRST SAMOAN HELICOPTER WEDDING: Jaydin Meredith arriving in style at her wedding venue, the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum.

Last week was quite a busy one for Samoa Helicopters Limited.

From their first emergency call on Thursday to their first wedding ceremony, the helicopter team has proven that they are indeed here to stay and that they can do it all.

The team first got a call from Foailalo in Savaii that there was a 2 year old girl in critical condition and needed emergency transport to the National Hospital of Samoa (N.H.S.).

FIRST EMERGENCY CALL: The two year old girl with her mother in the helicopter.

FIRST EMERGENCY CALL: The two year old girl with her mother in the helicopter.

The helicopter did not hesitate for a second, sending their chopper to retrieve the little girl ultimately giving her a fighting chance at N.H.S.

The helicopter company’s General Manager Rodger McCutcheon told Samoa Observer that the whole ordeal was an emotional one.

“This week for Samoa Helicopters has been an interesting one,” he said.

“Probably for me it was quite emotional to get our first call to bring a little girl who was seriously ill from Savaii to N.H.S. here in Apia.

“We responded quickly and when we got there, we didn’t shut the helicopter down and I quickly realized when we spoke to the medical team that the little girl was indeed critical.

“I was told that she needed to be in I.C.U. urgently because in all likelihood she would have passed away if she had to do the road and ferry trip.” The round trip took a little over 30 minutes cutting down transport time tremendously which contributed to the saving of the little girl.

“It took us 16 minutes to get to Savaii and when we got the little girl on board after a medical briefing we were back here in just a bit over 20 minutes,” Mr. McCutcheon said.

“We had some bad weather to get through but we toughed it out and got her to the hospital safely. “It was really quite satisfying as opposed to the long hours she would have faced using the old method of going by car to ferry, then from the wharf to N.H.S.”

FIRST EMERGENCY CALL: The two year old girl with her mother in the helicopter.
FIRST EMERGENCY CALL: The two year old girl with her mother in the helicopter.

The little girl was reported to be recovering at N.H.S. but according to Mr. McCutcheon, the medical team said the story would have been different if the helicopter was not used.

“In the helicopter the little girl was passing in and out of consciousness, she was very very sick,” he said. “Her eyes were rolling back and I was really concerned in the helicopter; thankfully the helicopter cut the transport time down.

“The medical team knew she would have passed away if a helicopter wasn’t used.”

But the week ended on a high with a change of mood. The helicopter was hired on Saturday for another first, the first Samoan wedding to use a helicopter.

During the wedding of Kane and Jaydin Meredith, the helicopter was used to transport the bride to the venue giving the guests quite a sight. “It has been an interesting week,” Mr. McCutcheon said.

“Aside from the first wedding celebration today; we have about 10 wedding bookings.

“We have bookings from all over the place; from New Zealand, Australia, and so many others who will be in the country for a wedding.

“But this is the first Samoan wedding and I think it was a bit of a race for people to try and book, trying to be the first to have a helicopter at their wedding.

“So this is pretty cool, it rounds off the week quite nicely.” Mr. McCutcheon also explained their plans of building an independent trust which will help more emergency cases in the future. “The main thing I want to form right now is the Samoa rescue helicopter trust, which I am in the process of doing,” he said.

“This will be an independent trust with the Prime Minister being the Patron and other businessmen will be on the Board.

“That will be independent to the helicopter, we’ll just be contracted to the trust but I want that trust to hold the funds and any donation so that whether you’re a poor or wealthy family in Samoa, you will get the use of the helicopter.”

Mr. McCutcheon is grateful for all the support his company has been getting.

“So far everything has been fantastic with the people who have supported us and I really appreciate that,” he said.

“I want people to know to pick up that phone and call us, and we will be there in a heartbeat should you need us. “As long as people do that, I will be a very happy guy.”

© Samoa Observer 2016

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