The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter crew.
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter crew.

Chopper chalks up record bill

JANUARY might become known as the $220,000 month in the annals of Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter history.

That’s how much the rotors of the service’s two Dauphin helicopters sliced through in what ended up as its second-busiest month ever.

Over the month the service’s helicopters flew a total 44 missions, at an average cost of $5000 each.

The only busier month on the service’s books was May 1988, when the Northern Rivers was hit by two floods in a single month.

The January missions included 26 ‘primary’ missions, when a helicopter is sent to help someone who is sick or injured and needs urgent medical treatment, such as the tragic twin drowning of a Sydney couple at South Ballina Beach.

They also included 16 inter-hospital transfers and two search and rescue missions, including the rescue of three men who escaped without injury when their helicopter crash-landed on a remote ridge in the Mt Barney National Park.

Helicopter chief pilot Lynton Beggs said saving lives was an expensive business.

“I think emergency services, and the community in general, realise the rescue helicopter is now an essential part of any rescue, and that is why we’ve come to be relied on so heavily,” he said.



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