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Tauranga Rescue Helicopter

Thu, 20 Jan 2005

Tauranga Rescue Helicopter

TrustPower and The Tauranga Electricity Consumer Trust (TECT) have, as joint major sponsors of the Tauranga-based Rescue Helicopter Service, welcomed the intervention of ACC Minister Ruth Dyson, who has cancelled the ACC review of New Zealand rescue helicopter services.

TrustPower spokesperson Graeme Purches says TECT and TrustPower had stepped in as major sponsors to "rescue" the local service after it was put at risk by the withdrawal of its then major sponsor, TranzRail, two years ago. He says they were planning to launch a petition next week in support of the Tauranga based service, involving advertisements in all local newspapers with a free-post response to TrustPower. TrustPower would have then have forwarded the petition forms on to the Minister and ACC.

"We are delighted that commonsense has prevailed. TrustPower and TECT both held the view that people living outside the main centres would have been put at risk by the ACC proposal. Given that well over half of the operating costs of the service are met by sponsorship and local support, and that ACC would have been having to pay more on a per kilometre basis for a service that simply would not have been capable of providing the same level of coverage or rapid response, it is little wonder that the ACC proposal was greeted with alarm by communities all over New Zealand. We are really pleased that the superb service provided by our local helicopter and its manager/pilot Liam Brettkelly is now secure."

Mr Purches says the Tauranga service provides a vital link in the national chain of rescue helicopter services, and TrustPower and TECT are pleased to be able to support the national service through the sponsorship of one vital link in that chain.

"Helicopters do require maintenance, and pilots do need time off just like the rest of us. Having multiple services not only shortens response times so that patients are more likely to get the care they need within the vital golden-hour period, but also ensures there is coverage if for some reason one service is unavailable or already engaged on a job. Over recent months we have seen our local service providing support as far a field as Gisborne, while at times the Taupo, Rotorua and Hamilton services have been called upon to provide cover in the Bay of Plenty."

ENDS

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