Public meeting on chopper plan
A team from the Westpac Helicopter Trust will hold a public meeting in Waihi tomorrow (August 24).
Spokeswoman for the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust Kerrie Spicer is coming to Waihi, along with two retired intensive care Auckland paramedics to talk about rescue helicopter services.
The meeting is organised by Grey Power Waihi in the Baptist Church from 10am.
Kerrie says the team will discuss the role of the trust and its future.
“How we get our funding, and how many missions we have been part of,” she says. In March, the Ministry of Health issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for air ambulance operation services, outlining changes that could mean some rescue helicopter bases — Whitianga, Rotorua, Te Anau and Taupo¯ — would be disestablished.
The RFP requires the current seven North Island providers to be reduced to two regions, with one in Auckland/ Northland and one for the rest of the North Island.
Within this area, the RFP proposes helicopters bases in Hamilton, Tauranga, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay, Wellington, Palmerston North and New Plymouth.
An 8500-signature petition calling on the Government to include Whitianga and Coromandel rescue helicopter services in the tender process was presented by Coromandel Rescue Helicopter Trust members to Coromandel MP Scott Simpson at Parliament late July. Mr Simpson says the government has failed Whitianga and Coromandel residents.
It will be simply unacceptable to local residents and the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Coromandel Peninsula each year if existing services are way.’ reduced in any SCOTT SIMPSON Coromandel MP
“It will be simply unacceptable to local residents and the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Coromandel Peninsula each year if existing services are reduced in any way.
“It is difficult to see how clinical outcomes can be improved if air ambulances are dispatched from further afield.
“Surely the Minister can acknowledge that the extra time that it will take to travel the further distance may be the difference between life and death for some patients,” he said.
Chair of Grey Power Waihi Merv Lauder says the meeting is for the community.
“Everyone is invited to come and we will be better informed on what is happening,” he said.
Half the operating costs of helicopter services is met from the community. Funding is made up of sponsorship and donations from individual members of the public, corporate donors and charitable organisations.
■ Gold coin donations appreciated.