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Northern NSW : Rescue Winter15
Recent east coast low pressure systems wreaked havoc over much of the area covered by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. I am proud to say the helicopters and our partners in the emergency service chain including doctors and paramedics did a wonderful job. Assistance given to those in need supported outstanding community and volunteer efforts. The figures speak for themselves: seven fatalities, 3,409 triple 0 calls, 11-metre waves off the coast, 135km/h winds off Nobbys, 312mm of rain in 24 hours at Dungog, 5,500 properties without water and 90 flood rescues across the Hunter. During the storm period the WHRS conducted 15 primary missions, four search and rescue missions, three secondary hospital transfers and one relief flight. These included transporting a stranded woman in labour and winching a man and his dog trapped by floodwater. There are fascinating stories to come out of this severe weather event, some of which are related in this Rescue. Congratulations and thank you to all the helpers and heroes. In the past couple of weeks I have had the pleasure of speaking to a number of groups about the Service. Among them was the Newcastle Business Club whose many members include some of our major sponsors and partners. Some were surprised to learn the Service is about to celebrate its 40th anniversary. As it was pointed out to me, many people at the function and, in fact, in the wider community were not even born when the Service began. While there is great interest in our beginnings, there is equally strong interest in the new-style contract awarded by the NSW Government for aeromedical services throughout the Northern NSW regions. Of particular interest are the new aircraft that will be introduced. These AgustaWestland AW139 aircraft will fly out of our bases at Newcastle, Tamworth and eventually Lismore. Presently our colleagues in the Westpac Northern Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service operate out of Lismore and, under an agreement, the base will be operated by an amalgamation of the Services from the first quarter of 2017. One question raised by Business Club members was what impact, if any, would the new contract have on community fundraising? The answer is that this model of funding from both the community and Government will need to continue. Business people have responded well to news of the larger area to cover and there are strong indications that as we enter our next decade the regions including the Central Coast, Hunter, Mid- North Coast, Northern Rivers, New England and North West will continue to help to ensure that no one who needs our service has to pay. I have provided answers to some of the questions we have been asked since that contract was announced. They appear below and I hope you find it useful information. Richard Jones General Manager Pressure was on Q: When does the new contract begin? A: April 2017 is the actual date for the new contract to come into force, coinciding with the first of the new aircraft, but there is much to do in the meantime. Q: Does the new contract mean the Government is now fully funding the Service? A: No. Indeed it was the community involvement with our Service that we believe helped us win the contract. If we are to continue rescuing and transporting people at no cost to them then we will need your continued support. Q: Surely there is enough money in the contract to not need community support? A: The contract dollars are much larger of course, but this is very much about the cost of the more modern and more sophisticated aircraft and equipment, and specialised skills of the operational staff needed to ensure the community is well served over the next decade or so. Q: Under this new system, what guarantee has the community that the funds they raise will be used locally? A: Under the agreement with the Northern Service there is a guarantee that funds raised locally stay in that community. This is how we have operated in the New England for more than 15 years. 2 Rescue Magazine WINTER 2015
Rescue - Summer 2014
Celebrating 40 years Rescue December2015