It’s 25 years since Jassy Dean’s life was tragically cut short when she died from meningococcal disease just as her teenage years debuted. Jassy was, by all accounts, a sunny, intelligent girl who made an impression on all who met her.
Living as she did in a close-knit community for most of her young life, Jassy was active in all aspects of her high-school life and she was a keen Girl Guide. When she became unwell, it seemed at first to be little more than a bad cold, but when she was seen by Waiheke doctor, Ian Scott, it was clear something more serious had caused her sudden illness. Jassy and her mother Bronwyn were immediately transferred by helicopter to Auckland Hospital where, a few days later, she died.
In 1992, the year Jassy died, Waiheke Island seemed isolated out in the Hauraki Gulf. There were fewer transport options than the island now has – small planes landed infrequently on one of two grass airstrips (now mostly given over to vineyards), amphibious planes landed even less often, and the passenger ferry service was intermittent with ‘fast’ ferries every two hours. (These currently run half-hourly.)
Back then, ill patients were transferred by ambulance to a waiting ferry and from the ferry by ambulance to the hospital. At times when the ferries were not running, ill patients were sometimes transported by the police boat, Deodar. Critically ill patients were transported, as was Jassy, by rescue helicopter. In these do-or-die situations that still prevail for Hauraki Gulf residents with the onset of sudden illness or injury, life is suddenly turned on its head.
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