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Westpac rescue chopper record

Last updated 05:00 22/01/2013

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Almost 50 per cent more missions than last year were run by Auckland's Westpac rescue helicopter during its busiest Christmas and New Year holiday period on record.

The two rescue choppers completed 65 missions between December 24 and January 6 compared to 44 missions for the same period a year ago.

Rodney had five missions - the third highest in the helicopters' area - this Christmas-New Year compared with four the last time. Hauraki Gulf islands had four after only one for the same time a year previously.

The busiest regions were the summer hot spots of Waiheke Island (12) and Thames/Coromandel, the latter having more than triple the number of rescues from the previous year with 28.

Having a helicopter based in Whitianga at a new hangar helped provide a more efficient service to the Coromandel region, Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust chief executive Bob Parkinson says.

"The Coromandel is exceptionally busy over the Christmas period with many holidaymakers choosing this as their destination of choice. With more people out on the water, on the road, and busy with holiday activities there is always an increase in a need for our services over the summer holiday period," he says.

"Our dedicated team has stepped up to perform a record number of rescues over the holidays, despite the potential for fatigue."

On each mission the helicopter flies with a pilot, paramedic, trauma doctor and a crewman.

One of the two rescue helicopters has been based at the new Whitianga hangar since Boxing Day and will remain there until the end of this month.

The second helicopter remains based at Mechanics Bay in Auckland to service the greater Auckland region.

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- Rodney Times

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