Chop­per scram­ble

New con­tract forced last-minute moves

Hawke's Bay Today - - Front Page - Astrid Austin Res­cue He­li­copter Trust gen­eral man­ager Ian Wilmot

"The white he­li­copter on loan from Palmer­ston North has been in­volved in train­ing and fa­mil­iari­sa­tion around the lo­cal area for pi­lots and crew­men, es­pe­cially with winch train­ing for the team."

Hawke’s Bay Res­cue He­li­copter Trust is hail­ing the first week of its new ser­vice as a suc­cess af­ter a be­hind-the-scenes scram­ble for a loan chop­per.

The trust ended its con­tract with Sky­line Avi­a­tion, which pro­vided the well-known black BK he­li­copter, on No­vem­ber 1.

It moved to newly in­cor­po­rated com­pany Cen­tral Air Am­bu­lance Res­cue Lim­ited (Caarl), which will over­see the con­tract for res­cue he­li­copters for the whole Cen­tral re­gion.

Caarl is jointly owned by the five ex­ist­ing air am­bu­lance he­li­copter trusts in the North Is­land; The HBRHT, East­land He­li­copter Res­cue Trust, Philips Search & Res­cue Trust, Taranaki Res­cue He­li­copter Trust and the Life Flight Trust.

Gen­eral man­ager Ian Wilmot said it had been a “smooth tran­si­tion” that had been han­dled “with­out any prob­lems”.

The res­cue he­li­copter com­pleted five emer­gency mis­sions in its first week, in­clud­ing re­spond­ing to a per­sonal lo- cator bea­con ac­ti­vated in Ruahine For­est Park where a tram­per was ex­pe­ri­enc­ing chest pains.

The trust has ne­go­ti­ated to lease an ex-Ger­man res­cue he­li­copter that is be­ing re­built and re­fur­bished, with up-to-date safety and nav­i­ga­tional en­hance­ments, at a cost of $US$1 mil­lion ($1.48m). It will be painted yel­low.

How­ever, be­fore the de­liv­ery of the twin en­gine BK-117D2 he­li­copter next month, the trust has bor­rowed a white twin en­gine he­li­copter from Palmer­ston North­based Philips Trust.

The orig­i­nal tem­po­rary he­li­copter ar­ranged to be used once the Sky­line con­tract fin­ished was only able to com­plete pre-hos­pi­tal res­cue mis­sions and un­able to un­der­take in­ter-hos­pi­tal pa­tients.

It has been sent to Palmer­ston North in­stead.

Wilmot said it was a new era, but the same high stan­dard of res­cue ser­vice was be­ing pro­vided.

“In ad­di­tion to th­ese five emer­gency mis­sions, the white he­li­copter on loan from Palmer­ston North has been in­volved in train­ing and fa­mil­iari­sa­tion around the lo­cal area for pi­lots and crew­men, es­pe­cially with winch train­ing for the team,” he said.

Wilmot said its “highly qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced team of pi­lots and crew that have worked with the Hawke’s Bay ser­vice will re­main” and all other pre­vi­ous staff had been re­tained.

Each year, their crew per­forms more than 300 mis­sions within the re­gion, with more than 80 per cent of th­ese pro­vid­ing ur­gent med­i­cal trans­port for the crit­i­cally ill or in­jured.

The an­nual cost to run the ser­vice re­mains about $2.5m, with half of that com­ing from the com­mu­nity.

PHOTO / SUP­PLIED

Hawke’s Bay Res­cue He­li­copter pi­lots Jeremy Bruce (left) and Hamish Ram­say pic­tured in front of the white he­li­copter, on loan for the next month from Palmer­ston North.

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