Res­cue helicopters fly to aid of thou­sands

Matamata Chronicle - - News -

More than 5430 res­cue mis­sions were un­der­taken by res­cue helicopters around New Zealand last year in­clud­ing 385 in the Waikato-King Coun­try re­gion.

As part of this month’s na­tion­wide West­pac Chop­per Ap­peal, the Waikato-based West­pac res­cue he­li­copter is ask­ing the com­mu­nity to give gen­er­ously and get be­hind the lo­cal he­li­copter.

The ap­peal aims to raise funds and aware­ness for the 16 char­i­ta­ble res­cue he­li­copter trusts op­er­at­ing around the coun­try with all do­na­tions go­ing back to the re­gion they are col­lected from.

West­pac’s di­rec­tor of cor­po­rate af­fairs, Sue Fo­ley, said the coun­try’s res­cue he­li­copter ser­vices of­ten made a life-or-death dif­fer­ence for many Ki­wis.

‘‘Thou­sands of Ki­wis will need this ser­vice over the com­ing year – the re­al­ity is next time it could be any one of us, a mem­ber of our fam­ily or a friend,’’ Ms Fo­ley said.

‘‘ We’re en­cour­ag­ing as many peo­ple as we can to sup­port such a vi­tal ser­vice as ev­ery do­na­tion makes a big dif­fer­ence.

She said each mis­sion could cost thou­sands of dollars and in­cluded a mix of am­bu­lance and search and res­cue work.

‘‘This could be

any­thing from boat­ing or car ac­ci­dents, near drown­ings, bro­ken bones or heart at­tacks – even emer­gency births.’’

The res­cue chop­pers are like fully equipped in­ten­sive care units in the sky pro­vid­ing a ded­i­cated 24-hour, seven-day-aweek ser­vice.

‘‘ From a de­fib­ril­la­tor for a pre­ma­ture baby to full life-sup­port sys­tems, they are equipped to deal with al­most any sit­u­a­tion.’’

The chop­pers are called on when medics think get­ting a pa­tient to hos­pi­tal quickly will make a big dif­fer­ence. They also as­sist with ac­ci­dents in dif­fi­cult lo­ca­tions and sup­port search and res­cue and fire op­er­a­tions.

The ma­jor­ity of fund­ing for this unique ser­vice comes from the com­mu­nity – from spon­sors like West­pac, and other fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

‘‘ We’re con­tin­u­ally over­whelmed by the gen­eros­ity of lo­cals, and are very proud to have the sup­port of our com­mu­nity,’’ chief pilot Grant Brem­ner said.

Run­ning through­out May, the West­pac Chop­per Ap­peal is sup­ported by open days at the he­li­copter base, fundrais­ing ac­tiv­i­ties in schools and com­mu­nity cen­tres, as well as a na­tion­wide street ap­peal on Fri­day, May 31.

West­pac funds the mar­ket­ing and ad­min­is­tra­tion costs of the ap­peal, and dis­trib­utes 100 per cent of funds raised back to the lo­cal res­cue he­li­copter trust.

Do­na­tions for the 2013 West­pac Chop­per Ap­peal can be made: At any West­pac Branch, By tex­ting CHOP­PER to 3181 to do­nate $3, On­line at chop­per­ap­peal.co.nz. West­pac is the ma­jor spon­sor of the Auck­land, Waikato, Welling­ton and Christchurch West­pac res­cue helicopters and through the West­pac Chop­per Ap­peal helps all other re­gional he­li­copter ser­vices in New Zealand.

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