THE Westpac Rescue Helicopter has had its busiest weekend on record, after several emergency missions.
And the Tamworth-based chopper hasn’t stopped, with further airlifts since a record-breaking 24 hours on Saturday.
Since Saturday, the chopper has flown three patients to Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital, including a young man involved in a crash near Armidale, an elderly Inverell woman with a cardiac complication and a Wee Waa teenager injured in a polocrosse match.
The helicopter was also tasked to a secondary mission at Tingha, while on Sunday, an elderly woman was flown to Tamworth hospital after her car rolled at Bellata.
She has since been airlifted to Gold Coast Hospital for further treatment.
Service general manager Richard Jones says the region’s rescue helicopter’s missions have significantly increased since a doctor-paramedic team joined the crew in early March.
“Now that the Tamworth base is manned 24/7, our flight team has doubled to four pilots and four air crew in order to respond to the growing demand,” Mr Jones said.
“The past weekend’s missions required 13 engine hours within a day, which is outstanding for the local service in such a short period of time.”
The rescue service has been based in Tamworth for 15 years and has seen 25,000 people flown for urgent medical treatment.
The Westpac service earlier won a new 10-year contract to provide aero-medical services to northern NSW, but Mr Jones said ongoing support from the community was needed to ensure future operations continued.
“Our budget is about $15 million, but the government provides 45 per cent and we have to raise the rest through the generosity of the community. That is why support from businesses, workplaces and a little bit from a lot of people really adds up and allows us to continue this vital service,” Mr Jones said.
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