Milestone for the rescue chopper
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.
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.