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Good timing for new regional rescue helicopter

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust says the tragic and sudden events which have hit the community during 2011 shows the importance of the region having a rescue helicopter service. The arrival of the service's new twin-engine BK117 rescue helicopter is perfectly timed as the region moves into the busiest time of the year.

Paula Muddle, Marketing & Communications Manager for the Trust says the BK117 helicopter is now in operation and brings the service in line with new regulatory requirements by the Civil Aviation Association and National Ambulance Sector Office, as well as catering for the growing needs of the region. It allows the service to meet the new higher rescue helicopter standards and future proofs the service with IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) compatibility which could allow the helicopter to fly through cloud as airplanes currently fly.

"The Trust is now in its 20th year, and over this time rescue missions across the Top- of-the-South have increased from 40 missions annually to nearly 400 a year, and with the BK117 joining the existing squirrel helicopter, we will meet demand," Muddle says. "Thanks to the incredible community support, our service has cemented its place as a vital service.

"We were very lucky that there were no major injuries caused by the recent flooding, but there easily could have been," Muddle says. "The BK117 helicopter is larger so enables paramedics to access the full length of a patient while in flight, and it can take the weight of two paramedics and additional patients.

"Where appropriate, such as for search and rescue, the Trust will still operate the region's well known single-engine Squirrel helicopter, which has been reliable, safe and cost-effective for many years."

Founding Trustees Chairman Robert Williams of WHK and Vice Chairman Dennis Creed from Pitt & Moore say "This new helicopter marks the Trust's most significant and exciting change since its inception in 1991. We've been on board for 20 years and have seen the service evolve from a semi dedicated service to the world class service it is today."

Trustee and Nelson Mayor Aldo Miccio says the new BK117 is a strategic asset for the community.

"Given our region's popularity as an adventure playground, it is fantastic that locals and visitors alike now have access to a modern BK117 helicopter for any unforeseen circumstances," Miccio says. "The rescue helicopter is a great example of being community owned for community use, and for its part, the Nelson City Council will be looking at the level of its support as part of the Annual Plan, and in the 10 year plan."

In March 2007, the Trust entered into a principal sponsorship agreement with Summit Real Estate and as naming rights sponsors the local rescue helicopter service became branded as 'Summit Rescue'.

Paula Muddle says that Summit's involvement over the past five years has been fantastic with the sales team providing 50% of the sponsorship and the Summit Real Estate company providing the other half. Over this time Summit has provided almost $400,000 in sponsorship

Paula Muddle says "in addition to this, we are very appreciative of what Summit has done through its marketing to raise the community profile of the service and the tremendous help the sales team have provided with various fund raising initiatives."

With the move to the new twin engine BK117 and the need to raise an additional $500,000 annually the Trust has approached us to stand down as naming right sponsors and we have agreed to this, says Summit's General Manager Vaughan Borcovsky.

"The new BK117 is great news for the Tasman/Nelson and Marlborough communities, we fully understand the Trust needs to secure a major sponsor and it is important that sponsor has the promotional naming rights," says Mr Borcovsky.

"We are very proud of our involvement with the rescue service over the past five years," Mr Borcovsky. "We will miss it being called Summit Rescue; however, we will continue to be a key member of the Trust's family of sponsors. At the time Summit Rescue commenced Paula Muddle coined a phrase "working together, saving lives" and that is just what it's been like."

Mrs Muddle says doubling its service capacity now requires the Trust to double its fundraising.

"As a trusted rescue helicopter service, it is crucial that we offer the latest technology, so that we operate a safe and compliant service, but this technology does not come cheap," she says. "The Trust is expecting to have to raise a further $500,000 per annum to run the service, with 60 percent required from the community and sponsors. This is a significant increase."

"We are thrilled that Summit will continue to be a key family sponsor, along with other loyal sponsors such as Nelson Pine Industries Ltd," she says. "This step up for us marks a new modern era for the service, and the BK117 is a blank canvas ready for a new Naming Rights Sponsor to make the most of. We see this as a great opportunity for either one of the region's large industries, or a national corporate.

"Once the BK117 has adopted its new corporate branding and colour scheme, an open day will be held at the hangar for the public to see it in action.

Over the coming weeks The Nelson Mail will provide updates and the public can watch a video tour of the new helicopter in action on

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