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.

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