New $5m rescue helicopter in action soon after launch



LAUNCH: The Dauphin N2 helicopter attracted great interest when it was officially launched at the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter base yesterday by the organisation's general manager, Warren Tozer. Picture: CATHY ADAMSBy JANE GARDNER

THE crowd had barely dispersed from the official launch of a state-of-the-art helicopter at the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter base yesterday when the $5.3 million machine was called into action.

The crew were called to airlift a critically ill patient from Grafton and a cardiacarrest victim from Lismore Base Hospital to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.

And the Eurocopter Dauphin N2 helicopter is expected to save countless more local lives.

The second-hand Frenchbuilt N2 outclasses the older C1 Dauphin in almost every way.

Chief pilot Lynton Beggs likened the difference between the two helicopters to driving a Kingswood and driving a Statesman.

"It's more powerful, can carry twice the amount of fuel, has more sophisticated navigation systems and can make longer trips ? which means we can save more lives," Mr Beggs said.

"Plus, it's really nice to fly."

Air crew, emergency services personnel, politicians and corporate sponsors looked on while general manager of Westpac Life Saver Helicopter Rescue, Warren Tozer, cut the giant red ribbon adorning the chopper.

"This could never have happened without the support of the community," Mr Tozer said.

"It will save more lives than I can possibly imagine, and I can't think of a better cause than that."

Before arriving at the helibase in Lismore the N2 was in service as a corporate helicopter in Malaysia ? ferrying business executives around the country.

Another helicopter may be bought in 2008.



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