Keep Our Rescue Helicopters
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Edit: We learned yesterday that the rescue helicopter service in the Coromandel that operates from Whitianga is also at risk under the NASO plan. This would see rescue helicopter services provided from Hamilton or Auckland, again with much longer response times and lacking the intimate local knowledge that makes the current system so effective.
As a result, the scope of our petition has been broadened again to include the at risk service in Whitianga as well. If any other services are also at risk under the NASO proposal, please let us know and we will include them as well. A single large petition will carry more weight with the Ministers of ACC and Health than a number of smaller petitions that might dilute the effect.
On 3 April 2018, the NZ Herald reported that The National Ambulance Services Office (NASO) that is operated by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) does not intend to continue the services offered by the rescue helicopters currently based in Taupo, and Rotorua. Subsequently we learned that rescue helicopter services in Te Anau and Whitianga are also at risk under this plan.
These helicopters provides a vital and proven life-saving capability for both residents of and visitors to Ruapehu, Taupo, Rotorua, Coromandel and Fiordland areas. They each fly hundreds of times a year to jobs from medical emergencies to lost trampers and survival situations in some of New Zealand's ruggedest terrain and weather. As a first responder myself, I could not count the number of times that this helicopter has provided direct and vital support to emergency service operations in the Ruapehu District.
Other rescue helicopters, based in larger centres like Palmerston North, Hamilton, Auckland, Dunedin or Queenstown are already busy, have much longer response times, and lack the intimate local knowledge that makes the local rescue helicopters so effective. The Air Force helicopters at Ohakea operate on longer deployment times and again lack the intimate local knowledge crucial for helicopter rescue operations in these areas.
People will die if these service are not maintained. That is a fact. If people can not be rescued off before the weather closes in or if medical or trauma patients have to wait for an out-of-district helicopter or a land party, their chances of survival go down dramatically.
This petition calls upon the Minister for ACC, the Hon. Iain Lees-Galloway, and the Minister of Health, the Hon. Dr David Clark, to commit to maintaining the rescue helicopter bases in Taupo, Rotorua, Te Anau and Whitianga. In addition, we would call upon the Government to review the NASO plan for national air ambulance services to ensure that it truly meets the needsof New Zealanders.
Note: it seems there's been a little confusion about a donation link that appears when you sign the petition. To make a donation to either the Phillips Search and Rescue Trust (Taupo and Rotorua), the Lakes District Air Rescue Trust (Te Anau), and/or Coromandel Helicopter Rescue Trust (Whitianga) please follow one of these links:
Taupo and Rotorua: https://www.rescue.org.nz/donate/
Te Anau: http://ldart.co.nz/donations.html
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