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by Alexia Johnston

The Westpac rescue helicopter crew is poised for a busy month despite a quiet start to winter.
Winter marks one of the crew’s busiest periods, car crashes being the predominant reason for callouts.
Ski and snowboard injuries also keep the crew busy over winter. There are 11 ski fields in the rescue helicopter’s catchment.
Last weekend was no exception, with three callouts to Mt Hutt, intensive care paramedic Mike McLintock said.
Last year the service attended 37 callouts for ski-related injuries and a further 10 for snowboard-related injuries.
In 2015, 43 skiers required the crew’s services, along with 16 snowboarders.
Accessing those patients was made easier by helicopter, especially if access roads were bumpy or icy, he said.
But it is not just ski-related casualties keeping the crew busy over recent days.
The Christchurch-based helicopter was also called to Mt Cook last weekend after a tourist fractured an ankle at Hooker Lake.
A crash in South Canterbury between a van and a ute was among the incidents attended by the helicopter in June.
The crash happened on June 8, on the Geraldine-Fairlie Highway.
A man (46), who was trapped in one of the vehicles for 45 minutes, was taken to Christchurch Hospital with serious leg injuries.
Also on June 8, a male cyclist (56) was treated for injuries after his bike and a car collided near the Waitaki River. The cyclist, who was thrown into a ditch, had head and arm injuries and a pelvic facture.
He was initially taken to Oamaru Hospital by ambulance, but was later flown to Christchurch Hospital by the helicopter crew.
Air Rescue Trust chief executive Christine Prince said the arrival of winter had brought an increase in emergency callouts for the service throughout the wider Canterbury region. Mid Canterbury was hardest hit.
The area’s ski season was launched at Mt Hutt on June 10.
“Canterbury’s other ski fields are all scheduled to open during June and July and we hope everyone is able to make the most of the conditions while staying safe.”
Other leisure and sport-related accidents kept the helicopter service busy during the month. Horse-riding, tramping, motocross, rugby and skateboarding accidents accounted for 33% of accident-related missions.