Mile­stone for the res­cue chop­per

The Northland Age - - Local News -

The North­land res­cue he­li­copter ser­vice is cel­e­brat­ing 30 years in the air as this year’s fundrais­ing ap­peal be­gins.

The ser­vice will be in­volved in nu­mer­ous ac­tiv­i­ties through­out Kaipara, Whanga¯rei, Mid and the Far North through to the of No­vem­ber, to pay trib­ute to thou­sands of lives saved, and those lost, since the very first flight from Kaitaia Hos­pi­tal on No­vem­ber 17, 1988.

Last year’s ap­peal raised $307,000, and the aim this year is to raise a sim­i­lar sum, given the in­creas­ing op­er­a­tional costs the ser­vice is fac­ing.

North­land elec­tric­ity lines com­pa­nies North­power and Top En­ergy will again con­trib­ute $100,000 and $50,0000 re­spec­tively to the cause, along with man­ag­ing the ap­peal cam­paign, chief ex­ec­u­tives An­drew McLeod and Rus­sell Shaw agree­ing that an air am­bu­lance ser­vice is cru­cial to the well­be­ing of North­landers.

North­land Res­cue He­li­copter chair­man Paul Ah­lers said lo­cal busi­ness sup­port was vi­tal, year in, year out, as the ser­vice was only par­tially gov­ern­ment­funded.

“North­power and Top En­ergy have been spon­sor­ing us since day one, and we could not have got this ser­vice off the ground with­out them,” he said. “Their sup­port has been crit­i­cal to us, just as sup­port from other busi­nesses and mem­bers of the pub­lic has been over three decades.

“We are also re­ally ap­pre­cia­tive of the on­go­ing sup­port we re­ceive from the North­land Re­gional Coun­cil, whose back­ing has been a sub­stan­tial boost to help­ing us meet our an­nual short­fall of costs and key to us be­ing able to af­ford to up­grade our he­li­copter fleet, which will en­sure we can con­tinue to help keep our com­mu­nity safe.”

The North­land Res­cue He­li­copter Ser­vice had flown more than 20,000 mis­sions since 1988, and had been in­stru­men­tal in sav­ing thou­sands of lives, he added. Kaitaia’s Far North Com­mu­nity Hospice will cel­e­brate Hospice Aware­ness Week with an­other of its fa­mous car ral­lies on Sun­day Oc­to­ber 28.

Driv­ers and crews will need to reg­is­ter out­side the Kaitaia Chil­dren’s Com­plex (be­hind Te Ahu) from 12.30pm, the twohour rally start­ing at 1pm. And if last year’s event is any­thing to go by, suc­cess will de­pend more upon in­ge­nu­ity than speed.

Af­ter­noon tea will be served at the prize­giv­ing, en­try cost­ing $10 per per­son, $30 for a fam­ily. Phone (09) 408-0092 for more in­for­ma­tion.

PIC­TURE / SUP­PLIED

North­land res­cue he­li­copter pi­lot Steve Couch­man has been with the ser­vice for 14 years, fly­ing well over 1000 pa­tients in that time.

Martin McDon­ald un­der­go­ing his com­pul­sory (if slightly un­con­ven­tional) health check be­fore last year’s Hospice rally.

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