Coromandel fights for rescue chopper
A public meeting is being held to gather support to keep a rescue helicopter in the Coromandel.
Earlier this month it was revealed that the Coromandel Rescue Helicopter, which is based in Whitianga, could be at risk of being axed if proposed restructuring plans by the Ministry of Health went ahead.
The plans would see a restructuring of where rescue helicopters were based. Bases in Taupo¯, Rotorua and Te Anua are also at risk.
The Coromandel Rescue Helicopter Trust (CRHT) has organised the May 5 public meeting.
CRHT chairperson Walter Russell said he hoped for a large turn out at the meeting.
He said support for the the rescue helicopter was with ‘‘strength in the numbers’’.
He said the meeting was the opportunity to send a message to the government that ‘‘they shouldn’t leave us with an air ambulance service that’s worse than what we have at the moment’’.
‘‘If the do, they simply don’t care about us.’’
He questioned how the restructuring of the air ambulance services would put patients at the centre.
‘‘The best interest of patients won’t be achieved by closing the rescue helicopter base in Whitianga.’’
There were already ‘‘expert crews, including highly trained paramedics’’ operating from the base, Russell said.
He could mainly see downsides to the proposal - longer emergency response times and that the base in Whitianga was built and operated from community funds.
Coromandel MP Scott Simpson put his support behind the meeting.
‘‘We’re not about to let [rescue services] be reduced when there is actually a need for it to be extended.’’
He said the prospect of losing the service was something the community ‘‘simply will not tolerate’’ given how every minute could mean the difference between life and death.
‘‘I will continue fighting to keep [the Coromandel Rescue Helicopter] and doing everything I can to persuade the new Government that it’s madness to even be considering such a short sighted move.’’
The meeting will be held 3.30pm, May 5 at the rescue helicopter base at the end of Abrahamson Drive, Whitianga.