Aerial re­sponse a ‘life saver’

Northern Outlook - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - OLIVER LEWIS

New Zealand’s first vol­un­teer fire bri­gade with he­li­copter ac­cess be­lieve it will be a life saver af­ter the first air­borne mis­sion saved an hour get­ting to a crash.

Fire and Emer­gency New Zealand (FENZ) was called at 10.38am on Sun­day af­ter a car crashed off a re­mote sec­tion of State High­way 65, about 6 kilo­me­tres north of Springs Junc­tion, near the bound­ary between Can­ter­bury and the West Coast. The Han­mer Springs Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade was no­ti­fied about 11am. It would have taken more than 90 min­utes to re­spond by road – in­stead the re­sponse time was slashed to 35 min­utes.

Chief fire of­fi­cer John Don­ald­son said it could have been 20 min­utes quicker in bet­ter fly­ing con­di­tions.

‘‘I think it’s go­ing to be a huge plus. . . you can just see from the time we’ve chis­elled from the re­sponse, and we had to take the long way be­cause of the wind,’’ Don­ald­son said.

It was the bri­gade’s first air­borne re­sponse af­ter FENZ struck a deal with Amuri He­li­copters and Alpine Springs He­li­copters in De­cem­ber to pro­vide air­craft in the event of a crash.

Don­ald­son said the re­sponse showed how the new ser­vice could save cru­cial min­utes and get first re­spon­ders with med­i­cal skills on the scene quicker.

‘‘You can just see it’s go­ing to be a life saver.’’

SUP­PLIED

Mem­bers of the Han­m­ner Springs Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion with Amuri He­li­copters.

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