By Stan Stewart
Willem van der Veen lives among the hills and near the cliffs beyond Waihi with his wife Carla and a few animals. Their children and grandchildren live in different parts of the Waikato. He has a beautiful 360 degree vista from their beautiful family home that he and Carla designed and had built.
When a person is thrown with force, a concrete drive is much harder that a human head.
On February 16, Willem Van der Veen’s head was forcefully dashed against a concrete drive when his farm machine flipped. Willem had done this work a thousand times before but he had not taken into account that his new hip replacement was not quite 100% and the rain made things just that little bit more slippery on the concrete drive. The four wheel ride-on with trailer, jack-knifed and flipped. Willem is a tough Dutchman, and tends to brush off injuries and though he and Carla were careful checking that he was okay and surface injuries attended to, they could not predict what would unfold
At first it seemed the bleeding was surface and this was cared for by appropriate dressings and a brief rest. But Willem soon knew that things were getting worse. He was feeling very unwell and and Carla could see his condition deteriorating and his grasp on reality fading. Once again, the local St John Ambulance came onto his property. This time a more serious scenario was advanced. “The bleeding may not just be surface – it could be internal - Willem’s brain could be bleeding”. This was a very accurate diagnosis of what was happening with Willem.
What next? The only hospital within range with the necessary Neurology equipment and skilled personnel was Waikato Hospital. This had to be Willem’s next stop. The ambulance journey would take two hours with ups and downs and jolts and around many bends. The decision was taken to call the Air Ambulance.
In 20 minutes the Air Rescue Helicopter had arrived at Morgan Park, Waihi. The helicopter was staffed by skilled and supportive staff. They gave Willem and his wife, Carla assurance and hope, even before the helicopter took off. In no time, Willem and Carla were whisked to the Waikato Hospital. Sure enough, after emergency scans, it was clear there was internal brain bleeding which needed the attention of the neurology staff. Immediately, emergency and appropriate treatment was underway.
What would have happened to Willem without the assistance of the Air Ambulance is too difficult for Willem’s wife and family to contemplate. Willem is now recovering and they all have a future together.
Willem is still taking things a little easier but their hearts overflow with thanks for the life-saving service of the Westpac Air Rescue helicopter Helicopter and their wonderful, skilled team.
Willem is very clear, they saved his life.
Caption: Willem Van der Veen enjoys life at home with family and friends in the hills above Waihi.