The Westpac Rescue Lifesaver Helicopter Service
The Westpac Rescue Lifesaver Helicopter Service Westpac Rescue Helicopter Servic

INTERACTIVE: Data reveals big summer for rescue helicopter

THIS summer has seen the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter embark on more than a mission a day.

The latest statistics reveal the service has flown 71 missions between Nambucca Heads in the south and the Tweed so far this season.

Figures over the past six years have also averaged a mission a day over the summer months.

"The summer periods are a busy time for us," crew chief Roger Fry said.

A fatal motorcycle crash at Cudgera Creek and a horror crash on Shelly Beach Rd at Ballina are among some of the most serious incidents the chopper has attended in January.

The data for February flights over the years suggests a dip in missions with communities getting back into the daily grind.

"Obviously people return to work from holidays in February so the mission rate drops slightly then," Mr Fry said.

The chopper carried out more than 380 missions last year, including 186 "primary" missions - call-outs to serious incidents - and 198 other, "secondary" flights, consisting mainly of hospital transfers.

It was a different story in 2015. Accidents far outweighed transfers, with the vital service attending 228 incidents and 198 transfers.

A 44 mission increase was cited in 2015 compared to those last year.

Mr Fry said the difference in numbers was just the nature of being an emergency service.

"You never know in this business. I guess if you ask the same of the police, the ambulance service or the fire brigade it's all a bit different from time to time," Mr Fry said.

"The reasons behind it are unknown at times. I couldn't put my finger on it."

Resources on the ground and the type of injury were cited by Mr Fry as some reasons behind the differing statistics between primary and secondary flights over the years.

Asked if Westpac's new $18 million helicopter would see the service increase its number of missions, Mr Fry didn't foresee a huge increase.

But he said the new aircraft would enable the medical team to expand its capabilities at accident sites, thanks to the chopper's ability to hold more equipment.

"We don't envisage a massive increase because of the new aircraft but there is a difference to what we are bringing to the scene of an accident," Mr Fry said.

Since the service began, the life saver helicopter has flown 8654 missions.

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