Thank You Taranaki! Your Support made 199 Life-Changing Missions Possible

2018 was a year of change for New Zealand’s rescue helicopter services. The National Ambulance Sector Office (NASO), on behalf of the Ministry of Health and Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), sought a proposal to modernise air ambulance helicopter services across New Zealand. One of the key reasons for this was to increase efficiencies and to continue to improve patient outcomes.

In November 2018, it was announced that the Taranaki community was successful in keeping its vital life-saving rescue helicopter service, an outcome we were extremely pleased with. To increase operational efficiencies and deliver on improved patient outcomes, we will be working in collaboration with four other rescue helicopter trusts: Eastland Rescue Helicopter Trust, Hawkes Bay Rescue Helicopter Trust, Philips Search & Rescue Trust (Central North Island), and Life Flight Trust (Wellington).

It is evident with the 199 life-changing missions our team undertook in 2018, that our wonderful region benefits from our rescue helicopter. The success of our tender to NASO is also testament to the support from our community. Thank you to every individual, every community group, every Taranaki business and organisation that donates to our rescue helicopter. You are helping us save lives in our region every single day.

Our team often get asked what does it take to keep our Taranaki Rescue Helicopter in the sky? The answer is you – our community! The annual operational cost for our Rescue Helicopter is $1.6 million, the majority of which we fund through our FRIENDS programme and corporate sponsors.
The remainder comes from government contracts via NASO for ambulance and medical flights, and NZ Police and RCCNZ for search and rescue missions.

Last year, your generous support, ensured our rescue helicopter and crew were able to undertake 199 life-changing missions. That was approximately 284.4 hours of flying. This was an additional 24 missions and 42.4 hours up on 2017. That’s an extra week in the air!

Long-standing relationships between individuals and organisations within the Taranaki region helps to ensure sustainability of our service, and we are extremely appreciative of both Fulton Hogan and Methanex New Zealand, two companies that continue in their long-term support for our rescue helicopter. Fulton Hogan continues to be our major sponsor of the Fulton Hogan Alpine Rescue Team and Methanex as an Associate Partner of the Rescue Helicopter. Methanex has supported the Taranaki Rescue
Helicopter for 22 years, a relationship we are truly grateful for.

This year has been a busier year than 2017 for the Rescue Helicopter. We have undertaken 24 more missions, with the most significant increase coming in the number of urgent hospital transfers we have completed. We expect to see this number continue to grow as the requirement for time critical transfers to specialist hospitals increases. We urge everyone
in the greater Taranaki region, locals and visitors alike, to enjoy our beautiful region carefully and with safety forefront of their minds.

Our full-time crew of four are supported by dedicated teams of volunteers who make up the Fulton Hogan Alpine Rescue Team and our Marine Rescue Team. These volunteers have been known to swap suit and tie for wetsuits and flippers, such is their commitment to ensuring our region has a rescue service on demand. Sincere thanks must also go to the Trustees of the Rescue Helicopter.

Thank you to our legal advisors, RMY Legal, Auditors and IT providers, Staples Rodway; and VanBurWray Chartered Accountants Ltd for their honorary services and overview they have provided to all at the Base over the past six years.

We are excited for the challenges and possibilities that await us in 2019 and the commitment our Trust and the wider sector has made to improving patient outcomes.

Thank you, Taranaki. Your ongoing support of our rescue helicopter service continues to ensure we can be there in times of need.

Bryce Barnett