Thursday, 26 November 2020


The Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter returns

Residents and holidaymakers enjoying all that the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula has to offer can rest easier knowing the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT) will have a rescue helicopter and crew based at the rescue helicopter hangar in Whitianga during the upcoming summer holidays.

Under national patient guidelines, set by the government’s National Ambulance Sector Office (NASO) in 2019, the ARHT is required to have two helicopters and crews available at their Ardmore base during daylight hours every day of the year.

Last summer, this meant a helicopter and crew were noticeably absent from the purpose-built Whitianga hangar and accommodation facilities, for the first time in 10 years.

“We understand that this decision weighed heavy on the shoulders of a wonderful community who have been so generous with their donations and warmly welcomed us every year,”  Northern Rescue Helicopter Limited CEO, Craig Gibbons, says. “We are therefore delighted to have worked through some logistical issues that will see the team back in Whitianga with the blessing of NASO.” Norther Rescue Helicopter Limited is a joint venture between the ARHT and the Whangarei-based Northland Emergency Services Trust.

While rescue helicopter patients can expect improved standards of care with two medical personnel onboard, Craig’s good news message comes with a word of caution. “At present, we are only able to have crew members rostered on in Whitianga during daytime hours throughout the month of January,” he says. “We will be ‘testing the waters’ so to speak with all three ARHT helicopters and crew in operation throughout the day and I am confident that our combined Ardmore and Whitianga operations will have the community well covered.”

In the 50 year history of the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter, the only time where three helicopters have been operational was when crews scrambled to provide as much assistance as possible to survivors of the White Island tragedy last year.              


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