Westpac helicopter team counts on all of us to keep going

TO THE RESCUE: Niklas Raeth, four, gets winched up by crewmen Tom Burns and Michael Kerry.
TO THE RESCUE: Niklas Raeth, four, gets winched up by crewmen Tom Burns and Michael Kerry. Contributed

FOR the members and crew of the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, the annual open day is about saying thank you to the community for their ongoing support.

And what better way to say thank you than with flight simulations, a jumping castle, winch rides, an obstacle course and a sausage sizzle.

For Duroby local Niklas Raeth, four, the highlight of the day was being winched up by a helicopter crewman.

Niklas said he would like to follow in the footsteps of the Westpac helicopter pilots.

"I want to be a pilot or a fireman," he said.

"And then the people can come and I can save them."

The open day was held on Saturday a day after the helicopter's biggest annual fundraiser, Chopper Day.

Westpac Helicopter fundraising manager Zeke Huish said the open day was about welcoming the community in, letting them get up close with the helicopters, meet a pilot and crew and find out more about the life saving service.

"We ask the community all year round to help us out with fundraising, so today it's more about saying this is our chance to open the gates and let everyone in to see what they support," he said.

"Every year it gets a little bit bigger and we add something new and different. There's something for big kids and for little kids."

This year, the new editions included a Star Wars storm trooper and imperial officer admiral Daala.

The SES also put on a live demonstration of how to get a casualty out of a car with the jaws of life.

Almost 70% of the Westpac Helicopter's annual $7m budget relies on community donations.

Westpac Helicopter crew chief Roger Fry said the open day was a good opportunity for people to see the aircraft, crews and equipment.

"It's a good event for the general public to come and see what they're actually investing their money into," he said.

"It's also our opportunity to see the public in a different atmosphere than what we normally see them, in an emergency situation."

Mr Fry said the helicopter has two new doctors starting up within the next two weeks.

Topics:  westpac life saver rescue helicopter

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