VIC­TORY FOR COM­MU­NITY

Coastal News - - Front Page - By ALI­SON SMITH news@coastal­news.co.nz

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 din­glek@out­look.com or 07 865 8778.

PHOTO / SUP­PLIED

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.

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