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Twin Engine Rescue Helicopter For Hawke's Bay

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Hawke's Bay Helicopter Rescue Trust is stepping forward with the arrival of a twin engine BK117 on the 23rd December.

Trust Chairman, John Newland announced that the Trustees agreed to go ahead with the biggest change in the history of the Trust since its inception in 1992.

The Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter has proved to be a vital service in the Hawke's Bay region. "We believe it is the right time to move from a Squirrel to a BK117 to ensure the service continues at the high level that people have come to expect", said John.

The Squirrel has been a reliable, safe and cost-effective airframe for many years but now does not satisfy regulatory compliance for the future.

The BK117 is expected to be up and running by the end of December. The Trust is expecting to have to raise a further $200,000 per annum to run the service as well as $700,000 to fit out the aircraft.

Trust Chief Executive Officer, Tony Robinson said a fit out is needed to transform the BK117 into an emergency medical rescue helicopter. The Trust will undertake the fit out in three stages. The first stage will allow the BK117 to become operational in December with the funding coming directly from the Trust. The Trust will then seek capital funding support from the community for the second and third stages. The second stage will be complete in March 2010 with the third stage completed as funding is secured in 2010. "The Trust hoped the Hawke's Bay community would continue to give generously to the vital service. With 60 per cent of the funding being received from the community and sponsors it was very important for the Trust to maintain the level of support and contribution. In the New Year we will be looking to hold an open day to give people the opportunity to see the new rescue helicopter", said Tony.

The key issues for the Trust's decision were: 1. Developments with Civil Aviation Association (CAA) rules on single engine helicopters (the Squirrel) flying over built up areas, such as Wellington Hospital. 2. Developments with the Ambulance and Paramedical Standards 8156 require that the access to the patient in flight is the head and mid thigh area and this cannot be achieved in the Squirrel helicopter. The BK117 helicopter would allow full access to the patient. 3. In the future, the crew configurations would need to include two paramedics on rescue missions. Currently for missions the crew configuration is a Pilot, Crewmember and Advanced Life Support (ALS) paramedic. With the regulation changes the crew configuration would also need to include a Basic Life Support (BLS) paramedic and with a patient on board the Squirrel helicopter does not have the weight or space capacity. The BK117 has the space and weight capacity required. 4. With patients becoming heavier in recent times the Squirrel helicopter has struggled with weight and performance issues. The BK117 helicopter has the capacity to allow for heavier patients. 5. Lastly, medical clinicians have a unanimous viewpoint that the twin engine airframe will ensure the desired level of patient safety for the future.

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