Record month for helicopter rescue crew

HEATHER SIMPSON
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2014
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Derek Flynn

The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter

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The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter attended a record number of emergency callouts in January.

It has been the busiest January its 22-year history with 64 missions - well up on the same period last year.

The helicopter was deployed 27 times to Marlborough last month - an increase from 11 callouts in January 2013.

Eight of the missions were medical, four were for falls, five were to motor vehicle accidents. The remaining missions were for other types of accidents.

The helicopter was at full stretch on January 14 with seven callouts to emergencies across Nelson and Marlborough.

Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust general manager Paula Muddle said there had been no hot spot areas for callouts, but most missions had been mid week.

"I can't pinpoint a specific reason for the increase," Ms Muddle said. "In January the population of Marlborough explodes with holidaymakers . . . The crew are absolutely knackered. There are no signs of its slowing down. February has already been just as busy."

Despite being busier than ever the Trust is working at a $400,000 deficit.

Ms Waddle said $1.2 million a year was required for operations but a shortfall in funding meant they could not afford to recruit the extra staff they require.

Their team has two fulltime rostered pilots with a third backup. There are four crew persons and five paramedic volunteers from St John Ambulance.

The service needs an additional fulltime paramedic and crew person, she said.

About 40 per cent of operational costs are met by the Accident Compensation Corporation, Police SAR and hospital payments with the remaining 60 per cent having to be met by public donations and business sponsorship support.

"Each mission costs $3500 but we don't get a lot of funding," she said. "We have support from The Canterbury Community Trust and Marlborough District Council but we are a small regional area and don't have big sponsors and donations. . .

"We have an exceptional crew that works tirelessly for the community. We need support and more money."


MISSIONS

January 2014

Nelson/Tasman missions 37

Marlborough missions 27

Total 64

January 2013

Nelson/Tasman missions 40

Marlborough missions 11

Total 51

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- The Marlborough Express

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