Since 1975 more than 30,000 missions have been undertaken by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.
It comes as no surprise to many that the concept for the Service and its earliest years of operations grew from within that other great Australian community service the Surf Life Saving Association, which provides voluntary and free of charge protection on Australian beaches.
The Rescue Helicopter has had an informal contract with the wider community to provide aeromedical retrieval services. The cost is met through a contract with the NSW Government and the Ambulance Service of NSW, which provides just over 50 per cent of operating costs.
The remainder comes from the community through voluntary contributions, sponsorships, events, bequests, cash housie and donations.
Pick up Saturday’s Newcastle Herald for your eight-page tribute to the flying heroes of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.
It means that no one who is assisted by the Rescue Helicopter is required to pay for that service. It also means the helicopters, pilots, crew, doctors and paramedics are available 24 hours day when and where they are needed within the region.
Since its beginnings as a weekend beach patrol, community support has been provided in many different ways including the sponsorship of Westpac, which is now Australia’slongest ever corporate sponsorship arrangement.
Today the Service works as part of the State’s emergency care chain and has four helicopters that operate 24 hours a day every day of the year from two bases located at
Broadmeadow and in Tamworth. The team includes experienced pilots, crew, doctors and paramedics who are well supported on the ground by skilled engineers, administration and marketing professionals.
In 2017 the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service will become one of only two aeromedical providers in NSW assisting the people of northern NSW. This requires the Service to invest in larger aircraft, added levels of training and operations.