Aerial response a ‘life saver’
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.’’
Members of the Hanmner Springs Volunteer Fire Brigade during a training session with Amuri Helicopters.