Rescue helicopters fly to aid of thousands
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.