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Newcastle Herald
Newcastle Herald
Josh Leeson

Rescue Helicopter in the hearts of Hunter families

Emily Glover and her two-year-old Hudson. Pictures by Marina Neil

EMILY Glover was dealing with the stresses of becoming a first-time mother in 2021 when the then 25-year-old was told she immediately needed a heart transplant just 12 weeks after giving birth to her son, Hudson.

The Singleton woman, who had no underlying health issues, had developed peripartum cardiomyopathy, a rare condition where the heart weakens during the final stages of pregnancy.

"Looking back it was very traumatic and terrifying," Mrs Glover said. "When I was going through it I had the attitude of, it is what it is and there's someone worse off than me.

"I think that's just a survivor's mentality, you need to do what you need to do to get to the next step. It's a maternal thing as well. I just wanted to get home to my baby."

Crucial to the Singleton woman's survival was the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.

Jamieson Hooper was flown to Westmead Children's Hospital after he was burnt in a kitchen accident.
Amanda, Jamieson and Mark Hooper with Westpac Rescue Helicopter's Kris Larkin.
Jamieson Hooper sizes up the helicopter with Kris Larkin.
Emily Glover appreciated the opportunity to thank the staff who played a vital role in saving her life.
Staff and Rescue Club members gathered together at Lake Macquarie Airport.
Chisholm's Krystyna and Peter Dron.

Mrs Glover was flown from the John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle to St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney to undergo an emergency heart transplant.

"The care I received during my chopper ride was amazing," she said. "They were really sensitive during that time and great at disguising how critical I was."

On Sunday Mrs Glover, her husband Dylan and their son Hudson, 2, were among a host of other Rescue Club Members who came together at Lake Macquarie Airport to celebrate the Rescue Helicopter Service's 50 years of operation in Australia.

The service was established in the Hunter 48 years ago in 1975.

Mrs Glover said she was "probably the healthiest" she'd ever been two years on from the transplant. Besides the physical scar on her chest, she still suffers from the trauma of the experience and visiting the Rescue Helicopter's Belmont base was part of her healing process.

"That is the actual helicopter I was in, so it's nice to come and see it and realise how far I've come," she said.

Jamieson Hooper, 4, with Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service training and checking aircrew officer, Kris Larkin. Picture by Marina Neil

Pelican couple Amanda and Mark Hooper were also among the Rescue Club Members who felt compelled to offer their thanks to the men and women of the Rescue Helicopter Service.

In April 2021 their then 18-month-old son, Jamieson, pulled a pot of boiling water off the stove onto himself, causing burns to 20 per cent of his body, centred on his abdomen.

Mrs Hooper is a registered nurse and began first aid on Jamieson before an ambulance rushed them to the John Hunter Hospital.

The next morning, Jamieson was flown by the Westpac Helicopter to Westmead Children's Hospital where he underwent skin grafts and spent 12 nights in the burns unit.

Mrs Hooper said her family became Rescue Club members for Jamieson, 4.

"We wanted him to be able to come here - because he doesn't remember the accident - and associate all this with positive things, that they help people, and not associate it with the worst day of his life," she said.

Sunday's celebration brought together Rescue Club members and staff from the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. Picture by Marina Neil

More than 1500 people are flown by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service every year between the Hawkesbury River and the Queensland border from its Belmont, Tamworth and Lismore bases.

Acting CEO James Lawrence said Sunday's celebration was a rare opportunity for staff to reconnect with patients.

"Every time an aircraft leaves the base it has a pilot and an air officer and a combination of incredibly talented medical professionals, they might be doctors, critical care paramedics with NSW Ambulance or nurses out of the hospital," Mr Lawrence said.

"For them to meet the people on a day like today, that they've helped, is incredibly special for them. It's important to all of us."

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