Currently celebrating 40 years, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter is going from strength to strength.
Since starting as a voluntary weekend beach patrol it now provides 24-hour, seven day dedicated aeromedical, search and rescue operations across the Hunter, Central Coast, Mid North Coast, Central West, New England and North West regions.
During the past four decades more than 30,000 missions have been undertaken and thousands of lives saved.
No one has ever paid to be assisted by the Rescue Helicopter – that’s because of the loyal support from business partners and the wider community.
The business sector has given generously through partnerships, sponsorships, donations and the Service’s Workplace Giving program where regular payroll deduction donations from employees are matched dollar for dollar.
Today the Service works as part of the State’s emergency care chain with four helicopters operating from two bases located at Broadmeadow and Tamworth. The team includes experienced pilots, crew, doctors, nurses and paramedics who are well supported on the ground by skilled engineers, administration and marketing professionals.
As part of the planned growth of the Recue Helicopter, they recently formally accepted the first of its new fleet of aircraft at a small ceremony in Italy.
The new helicopter was delivered by Lease Corporation International (LCI) and is now on its way to Australia. Four Agusta Westland AW139 aircraft will come into service in the first quarter of 2017 after undergoing final fit out and training regimes.
The addition of these aircraft is needed because next year the Rescue Helicopter will extend operations to cover northern New South Wales to the Queensland border, making it one of the leading aeromedical services in Australia. The expansion will result in a new operational base and a separate engineering and administration headquarters in the Newcastle area, a new base at Lismore and an upgrade at Tamworth.
The aircraft will be online and ready to go to work from March in Newcastle, Lismore in April and Tamworth in May. Benefits of the larger aircraft include greater speed, endurance and capability.
While the new contract involves higher operational costs the community will be even better served. Continued support from the business sector will help ensure no one ever pays to use this valuable service.
Image | One of the Service’s new AgustaWestland AW139s