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Rescue helicopter cuts could cost lives

The Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand is disappointed with the proposed funding cuts for rescue helicopter services in New Zealand. The National Ambulance Sector Office is proposing to rationalise rescue helicopter services across New Zealand. Whilst the new centralised services will have greater funding, FMC President Peter Wilson was concerned that the increased flying time would put trampers, hunters, and climbers at risk.

Critical rescue helicopter services in Taupo and Te Anau are proposed to be cut, being replaced with centralised services further away.

"Getting to injured people in the golden hour is critical", Mr Wilson says, and given New Zealand mountain-flying conditions, placing rescue services as close to the mountains as possible is necessary. If we move the helicopter bases out, they just won't be able to fly as much"

"The National Ambulance Office seems to have developed these centralisation plans in isolation from local communities"

Tongariro National Park and Fiordland National Park - both areas where recreation and tourism are booming - will be particularly hard hit as their rescue services will be pulled back to further afield.

"Given the tourism boom in New Zealand, this makes no sense"

Mr Wilson is urging the National Ambulance Board to "press pause" on the plans and allow a chance for consultation and feedback.

"If they don't slow these changes down, people could die, he says".

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