Recovering and grateful for rescue

Suzanne Prentice is singing the praises of the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter crew after having a major heart attack in Invercargill earlier this year.

The 63-year-old award-winning country singer believes if it had not been for the emergency service, she would probably not be around to talk about it today.

"I lead a busy life and I had just got home from a meeting. I had dinner and all of a sudden I started to get this pain in my neck.

"I said to my husband, ‘can you come and have a look at this?’ and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor and the pain was absolutely intense."

The ambulance was called and she was taken to Southland Hospital.

"That’s when I went into cardiac arrest, and the next thing I know, I was in the Otago Rescue Helicopter heading for Dunedin."

When she woke up during the flight, there was a moment of confusion, panic and fear, but then she realised where she was and that she was in safe hands, she said.

"The biggest thing for me was I thought, ‘oh God, it’s a helicopter’ and I was concerned about that.

"I must admit, being in the helicopter and seeing everybody there, I knew I was in good hands.

"I didn’t know what had happened, but I just felt the calmness in there."

Invercargill singer Suzanne Prentice is recovering well after having a heart attack in February...
Invercargill singer Suzanne Prentice is recovering well after having a heart attack in February and being transported to Dunedin Hospital by the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter. Photo: Gerard O'Brien
She has since recovered and has returned to her busy singing life — albeit at a slightly slower tempo.

"I was extremely lucky — so lucky. It’s such a vital service to have in Otago and Southland.

"If they hadn’t been there, I don’t think I would have made it."

She could not speak highly enough of Otago Rescue Helicopters, she said.

"They’re picking so many Southland patients up and they’re saving so many lives.

"Their equipment and the way they are manned is the best in the country, and I think a lot of people don’t know that.

"We do need to appreciate them and get behind them even more."

The singer of When I Dream (which peaked at number 11 in the New Zealand radio charts in 1982) and three-time Gold Guitar Award winner was back to singing again and "thoroughly enjoying it".

Asked if she would sing the theme tune for an advertisement for the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter, she said "you never know".