A year-long celebration is about to begin as Northland’s Electricity Rescue Helicopter Service launches its 25th year in operation.
November 15 marks the anniversary of the first flight by the Northland Emergency Services Trust back in 1988. Since then the service has completed over 15,000 flights and saved hundreds of lives in and around Northland - and offshore.
In fact, Northland’s three Electricity Rescue Helicopters are among the best equipped in the country for long distance flights, capable of completing 720km round trips. With the addition of an auxiliary fuel tank the distance grows a further 300km.
In the last five years alone NEST’s air ambulances they have flown the equivalent of 23 times around the earth, been to the moon and back twice since 2004 and carried enough passengers to fill an Air NZ 747-400 jumbo jet over a dozen times.
Yet those are only a handful of the remarkable statistics for the life-saving service which has a cruise speed of 140 knots (260km/hour). Now making over 1000 flights a year, NEST Pilot Russell Procter says demand for the service is growing close to 10% a year.
"We are busy; there is no doubt about it. But I guess that’s the beauty of the service we offer - we can get people to a place of safety quickly and we have the choppers to do it," says Mr Procter.
"This is one of the most specialised rescue organisations in the country and it is critical for a region as geographically diverse as Northland, particularly with so much coastline around us.
"The quality of the service is why I came here from Australia and it is great to be part of an organisation that helps so many people on a daily basis."
Mr Procter says the reality is, if the Electricity Rescue Helicopter Service was not available to Northland, the number of lives saved would be considerably less.
"Every donation is helping a cause that helps Northlanders and visitors to our region. We need money to keep this service going."
Northpower and Top Energy will again match public donations to the 2012 Electricity Rescue Helicopter Appeal up to $150,000.
Northpower and Top Energy CEOs, Mark Gatland and Russell Shaw, say they are pleased to be supporting Northland’s Electricity Rescue Helicopters after 25 years.
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