New investment for rescue service
By KIM COUSINS
LOCAL skies will soon be home to another Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.
Thanks to extra funding from Westpac, an additional helicopter, worth $5.5 million, will reach the Lismore base in coming weeks.
"We have been running the rescue service in Lismore for 15 years and are fortunate this year to receive increased sponsorship from Westpac," the general manager of the service, Perry Wells, said.
"Sponsorship is integral to the success of our rescue organisation and will assist with the arrival of our new aircraft, as well as training and general running costs." The helicopter will be a second-hand model.
Chief pilot Lynton Beggs recently returned from Malaysia where the aircraft is currently flying.
"We went there to make sure we were purchasing a quality product," he said.
"Next we will fit it out with medical equipment and seating for the paramedics. It will be ready to fly about two months after it arrives here."
With budgeted costs for the coming year exceeding $4 million, and the price of fuel constantly fluctuating, the extra funding from Westpac will ensure the service continues to run to full capacity for the next three years.
In the time it has been operating the rescue service has flown more than 5200 missions, covering from the Tweed to Nambucca Heads.
The helicopter and crew does much more than attend just accidents; the service also transports patients between hospitals and helps out during bushfires by water-bombing and dropping firefighters in remote areas.