Life Saver Rescue Helicopter pilot Marty Hanna (front) and veteran crewman Michael Kerry ready for take-off on a night mission.Photo by Adam Hourigan.
Life Saver Rescue Helicopter pilot Marty Hanna (front) and veteran crewman Michael Kerry ready for take-off on a night mission.Photo by Adam Hourigan.

Rescue chopper in critical condition

The Life Saver Rescue Helicopter is appealing for public help as rising aviation costs push this life-saving service to its limit.

According to general manager Kris Beavis, operating costs in 2010 will cost $1 million more than last year.

“Our operating budget in 2010 is $6.5 million – almost double what it was just four years ago,” he said. “Last year’s global financial crisis didn’t help. Our donations dropped by almost 12% as a result of that.”

He said fuel and maintenance costs had both increased dramatically.

“In addition, our fuel costs have doubled since 2006 to $381,000 per year, and we don’t charge for our service,” Mr Beavis said. “Our pilots and crew flew a record 44 missions in January. With each mission costing around $8500, that’s almost $400,000 in mission costs for January alone.

It’s important the community doesn’t take this service for granted. I urge them to get behind this appeal and make a donation. It’s the biggest appeal we’ve ever launched, and it’s critical to the successful, continued operations of Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.”

A teenage patient who was winched to safety by the rescue helicopter in January has formed part of the radio and television campaign supporting the appeal.

On January 30 this year, 13-year-old Luke Bain was spending the day with friends at Whian Whian Falls. But the fun soon ended when Luke fell onto rocks, hitting his head and becoming unconscious.

Due to the terrain, the Life Saver Rescue Helicopter was the only way of getting Luke out in a hurry and to hospital for emergency treatment

Although Luke has no memory of the incident – or the helicopter flight – he has made a full recovery. He and his grateful mum Kay both star in a television ad currently appearing on TV.

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter receives no direct government funding or grants and relies solely on the generosity of the community to keep flying.

Donations can be made at any Westpac Bank, at www.helirescue.com.au, or by calling 6627 4444.


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