Otago Daily Times
Rescue helicopter saved sponsor’s staff
OVER the past year, some Network Waitaki staff have experienced the lifeline of the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust’s services firsthand.
Wanting to ensure the service, which had rescued some of its staff, their families and many other people in Waitaki, could continue doing so for others in the district, Network Waitaki has entered a threeyear silver sponsorship agreement with the trust.
The electricity lines company will give the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust $25,000 a year for three years.
‘‘We are just grateful that [staff and their families] received fast access to the critical lifesaving expertise and equipment carried on the helicopters,’’ chief executive Geoff Douch said.
‘‘We’re really pleased to support it and make sure that service is available for people in Waitaki.’’
Yesterday, Mr Douch and Network Waitaki chairman Chris Dennison went on a tour of HeliOtago’s hangar and were presented with a sponsorship certificate from the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust.
Rescue helicopters were regularly seen in the sky over North Otago, Mr Douch said.
‘‘A black helicopter lands by the [Oamaru] hospital and you don’t really think much of it, but when you look at the operation behind it you go, ‘Wow — this is a pretty serious business’.’’
Network Waitaki was a 100% consumer trustowned company and sponsoring the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust was one way it could give back to the community, he said.
‘‘The benefit to the broader Waitaki community means that it’s a really worthwhile sponsorship.’’
Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust chairman Martin Dippie said Network Waitaki’s support was greatly valued.
The service relied on community support to assist with funding for the vital rescue helicopter service in the lower South Island.
Demand continued to grow, and the first few weeks of 2021 had been ‘‘especially busy’’.