VICTORY FOR COMMUNITY
A new $13 million state-of-the-art rescue helicopter is coming in the New Year and the Coromandel Rescue Helicopter Trust is thanking the local community for its strong support.
If 800 life-saving missions a year were not an impressive enough statistic, the petition by 10,000 locals made it clear: a 24/7 rescue helicopter base in our area is a must.
The Coromandel Rescue Helicopter Trust is thanking the community for its support and celebrating a $13 million state-ofthe-art rescue B7169 rescue helicopter coming in the New Year.
The helicopter is being fitted out currently and it has not yet been confirmed where it will be based.
However Lincoln Davies from the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust says it will be “business as usual” for the Coromandel over the busy Christmas period, with the Westpac One BK117 helicopter servicing the Coromandel community.
“On behalf of the CRHT Trust, we just wanted to thank everyone for their sponsorship and their petitioning to help us keep the base open and the helicopter going,” says Ross Dingle, Whangamata¯ Trustee of the Coromandel Rescue Helicopter Trust.
“The need for fundraising is never going to stop. But the response from people in this community, with their signing of the petition to Parliament and their continued generosity . . . it shows how the helicopter service is what the public wants, and they pay for it.
“They absolutely fill the bucket.”
The Coromandel Peninsula community gave $600,000 to establish a rescue helicopter base in Whitianga in 2012, which is made up of a four-bedroom accommodation and hangar base.
The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust supplies the helicopter and all crew, and both Trusts operate under a memorandum of agreement.
When the National Ambulance Sector Office proposed earlier in the year to amalgamate services and close the Whitianga base, the Trust started a petition in Whangamata¯ and Whitianga to Parliament and a public meeting at the base on May 5 drew a crowd of 3500.
In late September it was announced that the Whitianga Base would remain under the
‘On behalf of the CRHT Trust, we just wanted to thank everyone for their sponsorship and their petitioning to help us keep the base ’ open and the helicopter going.
Ross Dingle Whangamata¯ Trustee of Coromandel Rescue Helicopter Trust
new joint venture trust operating from bases in Auckland, Whitianga and Whanga¯ rei.
Mr Dingle says fundraising will be an unrelenting need, since the operation requires 50 per cent donations to run.
“We are always looking for your financial support. It took me just four weeks to raise $25,000 for a GPS system so we could fly in inclement weather — the community can’t believe the service they get, and that it’s free,” he says.
“One gentleman rang me the evening I put a letter in the Coastal News about the GPS fundraising, and donated $5000. He said ‘your helicopter saved my life’.
“He rang me up again a month later to see how we were getting on and I told him we were nearly there, just $2000 short. So, he said: ‘I’ll square it off for you’. That’s the kind of people there are here in Whangamata¯ .”
Mr Dingle says closure of the Whitianga base would have narrowed the critical window of time for Coromandel patients needing urgent care.
“At the moment in the helicopter it’s 10 minutes over the hill, which means we are within that golden hour — the critical point for emergency care.
“With our large retired population, it’s so vital that we have it.”
■ To confirm how to safely donate to the Trust and its work, contact Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org or 07 865 8778.
The Westpac One BK117 helicopter will continue servicing the Coromandel community and will be joined by the new state-of-the-art B7169 rescue helicopter in the New Year.