Plans for nationwide rescue helicopter shake-up

A shake-up is on the way which may see communities having to fundraise for newer helicopters.

A shake-up is on the way which may see communities having to fundraise for newer helicopters.

A big shake-up of rescue helicopter services across the country is being planned by the Government, but details are likely to stay under wraps until after the election, the services' chief says.

Auckland's Rescue Helicopter Trust chief executive Greg Barrows says there have been calls to rationalise the service, including by amalgamating some of the 11 trusts to make them more efficient.

This ties in with a new major trauma policy released in March, which will see patients taken to the most appropriate hospital, whenever feasible and safe, rather than the closest.

While the Government contributes to operation costs helicopters and equipment comes from fundraising.

While the Government contributes to operation costs helicopters and equipment comes from fundraising.

Included was an Air Desk for rescue helicopters on a two-year trial with $591,000 funding annually from the Ministry of Health and ACC.

READ MORE: * Triumph and tragedy, the life of rescue helicopter crewman

Based in Auckland, all staff have paramedic backgrounds and air ambulance experience.

Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter in action.

Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter in action.

"This is particularly important in things like outcomes for stroke patients by trying to get them to Auckland Hospital as soon as possible - even if they're in Rotorua. The Air Desk should make the use of the helicopter more efficient." Barrows says.

Pushing the current tender period out from three years to as much as 10 years has been suggested.

Rescue helicopter trusts have a contract with the National Ambulance Sector Office which terminates in March 2018, but the Government has asked them to roll them over until October 2018, Barrow says.

Standardising medical care across the regions is hoped for.

Standardising medical care across the regions is hoped for.

With helicopters in the national fleet generally 25 years or older, a tender for a longer period could see communities under pressure to upgrade and fund newer replacement helicopters to ensure they last the distance.

Ad Feedback

Government contributes about half of operation costs nationally but it varies from region to region depending on the local communities' ability to come up with funding. Buying helicopters and medical equipment comes entirely from donations/sponsorships.

Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust gets less from the Government as they have a strong population base.

Electricity Rescue Helicopter in action.
Delwyn Dickey

Electricity Rescue Helicopter in action.

Further north, the Northland Emergency Services Trust receives about 70 per cent funding of operational costs, chief executive Paul Ahlers says.

The Government is looking at efficiencies and economic savings, Ahler says.

But trusts run very tight ships already, and the country gets very good value for money when compared with overseas operations, he says.

While Ahlers acknowledges amalgamating various trusts could save on administration costs, he isn't convinced there is enough of an overlap in services around the country to warrant it.

He welcomes the discussion to create a more integrated service but would also like to see more funding from the Government to take the heavy burden off local communities.

The ability to fundraise more in Auckland sees the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter with doctors on board seven days a week, 10 hours a day, and advanced paramedics on site 24 hours a day. Plus all the drugs and medical gear they need.

"We can do blood transfusions on the side of the road, if we need to, or in the helicopter. We can call ahead a 'code crimson' to let the hospital know and so it can be prepared for a seriously ill patient. There's a lot of things that they have been able to carry out because of their relationship with the Auckland District Health Board for the supply of doctors," Barrows says.

A similar level of healthcare should be available across the country, he says.

"Other trusts have an arrangement to provide paramedics through St Johns. But they aren't onsite and have to be called off the road and into the base which adds to the delay in other areas."

"Amalgamation would likely see a higher standard of clinical delivery and more focused on the patient rather than about the helicopter."

The uncertainty has already seen Kawau Islanders halt fundraising to establish a $25,000 GPS flight path between Mechanics Bay on the Auckland waterfront to the Island in the Hauraki Gulf and Auckland Hospital, until its sorted out.

"Westpac would likely need to update its helicopter fleet which would possibly negate the need for a dedicated Helicopter Rescue Path through improved software that comes with the latest helicopters," Kawau Island residents and ratepayers association spokesman Andrew Fyfe says.

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers

Eat My Lunch boss shuts restaurant

Michael Meredith is renowned for innovation and degustation menus.

Michael Meredith has run one of the country's best restaurants for a decade.

Auckland Airport jet fuel cancellations grow video

Up to 3000 customers are expected to be impacted by cancelled flights on Wednesday.

36 more flights have being canned and 9000 passengers are being affected.

New steps welcomed by Waitangi community

Ngāti Rahiri Māori Komiti administrator​ Waireti Paora, FNDC senior facilities technical officer Mike Colebrook, marae ...

The Waitangi Marae community are over the moon with a new staircase linking the footpath to the foreshore.

Donations pay for dog's surgery

Hannelise La Lagadec and Kambi make a great team.

A therapy dog is recovery from lifesaving surgery thanks to donations to a Givealittle page.


Accident blamed on cycleway

Linda Gibson is worried a child could die after she collided with a cyclist on the controversial Island Bay cycleway.

Locals say a fatal accident is only a matter of time after crash badly injured a pedestrian and cyclist.

Kebab shop roasted

Upper Hutt kebab store owners must pay a Turkish couple more than $80,000 following the Employment Relations Authority's ...

Upper Hutt eatery fired worker because she wanted another child. Now it faces a $60,000 bill.

'Hard' housing choices 

2308 2013 Photo Ross Giblin, copyright Dominion Post, Fairfax.
Wellington City Council chief executive Kevin Lavery.

Chief exec warns Wellington councillors affordable housing agenda won't be easy to deliver.

'Suspect' suitcase full of clothes

A suspicious suitcase left outside the Treasury in Wellington has been found to be full of clothes.

Police stopped Wellington traffic to examine a case left outside the Treasury.


Brownlee's grassroots campaign

Gerry Brownlee prefers street corner meetings to debates with opponents when campaigning.

He hates debates and would rather talk to a handful of people on a street corner.

Fisher's body found

Jay Cairney and Keiran Lynch were missing after the Wendy J got into trouble off the coast of South Westland. One of ...

The body was found near the wreckage of the Wendy J fishing vessel on the Coast.

Motel used as crime base

Police followed a stolen car to a Christchurch motel and found a room full of stolen property.

Burglars booked a motel room under a false name and used it as a base to raid homes, police allege.

Cheap spots in favour

Cheaper suburbs are finding favour with Christchurch home buyers.

Home buyers opting for cheapest suburbs, while demand slows for pricier spots.


Waterworld - do we fix it?

Filter systems in the pool are slow, meaning a long closure if there's a code brown or other issue.

Old, weak pipes and slow filters are some of the reasons an extra $5.7m is requested.

New speed cameras

The speed cameras will be set up at 33 sites around the country, in an effort by police to drive down speed-related ...

Seven new permanent positions set up in high risk areas across Waikato region.

Review: Cucina Cafe, Hamilton

An $18 Kansas pulled pork sandwich from Cucina Cafe on Thackeray makes for a mysterious and delicious lunch.

The cafe located next to Anglesea Clinic was full of mystery and lovely old ladies.

A toast to a top Hamilton tipple

There are choices galore at aptly named Craft.

From craft beers from around the world to the shaken and stirred and early vintages, here are the best places to enjoy a drink.


Circus comes to town gallery

Max and Sophia perform the balancing act.

A new circus has come to town, complete with hoop diving, human pyramids and 12 girls on one bicycle.

Trade mark dispute

Brad Monaghan, from Venture Taranaki, with one of the flags promoting the 'like no other' slogan.

Venture Taranaki say despite the famous four words 'Taranaki Like No Other' being trade marked by a private person, it is still available for use.

Shots spark callout

Police were called to the scene around 9pm on Tuesday.

The neighbour heard gun shots, but when police arrived the man came out, drunk and unarmed.

Myrtle rust could surge

Manukorihi golf club was temporarily closed due to positive tests for myrtle rust in June.

The eradication of myrtle rust might not be possible, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.


Looking to te reo 

19092017   News  photo: WARWICK SMITH/STUFF
Te Reo M??ori appreciated in Brazil  -  Brazilian and Maori academics, ...

Te reo Māori could help breathe life back into endangered languages in Brazil.

House hunt despair

Peter Hughes wants a home, but says it's a struggle to find anything to rent cheaply in Palmerston North.

A new resident in Palmerston North says it is a struggle to find a cheap house to rent.

Keeping the workshop tidy

Te Manawa volunteer Charles Reggers with Greg Bloomfield's Koru Warrior.

A tidy workshop is a productive one and, thanks to Charles Reggers, Te Manawa's is exactly that.

Delivering chaos and uncertainty

Donald Trump has had a chaotic presidency of the United States.

OPINION: Donald Trump has had enough time to show he's fit for office.


Tahunanui and Motueka take lead

Tahunanui saw the biggest growth in house prices in the two years to June.

Tahunanui has seen the biggest growth in house prices in Nelson and Tasman district suburbs over the last two years.

Schools slam the Link

Schools in the Victory corridor have banded together to speak out against the proposed Southern Link.

Three Nelson schools and the kindergarten association have co-written a statement about the Southern Link.

Blackadder's impressive rise

Tasman flanker Ethan Blackadder carts the ball up against Otago.

Ethan Blackadder relishing step up in rugby intensity.

Jellyfish buzzing with real vibrancy

Debbie Lavery at the Jellyfish Cafe at Mapua Wharf.

Does Mapua's Jellyfish cafe have the best cafe view in the region? Our food writer thinks it could.


Businesses back racecourse site

The Ministry of Education says Waterlea Racecourse, in Blenheim, is still being considered for the site of Blenheim's ...

Chamber of Commerce throws weight behind Waterlea Racecourse, but wants a decision on new school campus either way.

Cafe confrontation

Prime Minister Bill English stopped in at BV Gourmet in Blenheim on the campaign trail on Tuesday. (File photo)

PM's coffee break gatecrashed as Labour candidate accuses National supporters of ripping down billboards.

Weather closes newly-fixed rail line

The Main North Line between Picton and Christchurch has been closed due to bad weather, just days after its post-quake ...

Just a single train managed to traverse the newly-repaired rail line from Christchurch to Picton before bad weather closed it again.

Owners highly motivated

New Zealand King Salmon's new barge is launched with air bags acting as rollers.

Four bedrooms, two bathrooms, 240 tonnes of fish feed. Wait, what?

South Canterbury

Parking meters stolen

Six parking meters have been stolen in Timaru, four from Bank St, and the other two from Strathallan St.

Police are looking for information after the theft of six parking meters in Timaru.

Rules could change

Minister Nick Smith said he endorsed the idea low-emission burners should only be introduced when old burners have ...

Meeting told Nick Smith will progress changes to national air standards.

Two escape fire video

Two people are in hospital after a well involved house fire near Timaru on Tuesday morning.

Elderly man carried wife over his shoulder as their house burned to the ground.

Fairlie helps crash victims

Fairlie Volunteer Fire Brigade firefighter Jeff Haugh, school bus driver Astrid Johns and firefighter Sam Haugh were ...

Bus driver, dairy owner and emergency staff among those who responded to bus crash.


Clyde's 'day of reckoning'

Central Otago mayor Tim Cadogan above Clyde.

The Central Otago township of Clyde faces a potential $34 million sewage system upgrade to meet national water policy standards.

Pair rescued from waterfall

Two people have been rescued from the top of a waterfall near Queenstown. (File photo)

Two people have been rescued from a steep track above a waterfall at a popular rockclimbing spot near Queenstown.

No Southern Utd games for Invercargill

Southern United's Michael Hogan challenges Leo Villa from Team Wellington in the air during their match at Rugby Park in ...

While Southern United won't play any national league matches in Invercargill this summer, they are still likely to visit the deep south.

Changes under way at hospital

An independent review of Dunedin Hospital's urology department has been carried out after several patients experienced ...

Health Minister expresses ''full confidence'' in Dunedin Hospital management after concerns were raised over life-threatening delays.


Seal lion shot

Department of Conservation staff have found a second critically endangered sea lion shot on a Catlins beach.

DOC staff have found a second critically endangered sea lion shot.

Upgrade planned for Elles Rd intersection

Lake St was the site of a crash between a train and a logging truck earlier in September.

One of Invercargill's most hazardous intersections is set for a major upgrade.

Tiwai celebrates

NZ Aluminium Smelters general manager Gretta Stephens, with Southland Girls' High School students Imogen Brankin, Tayla ...

Southland Girls' High School and New Zealand Aluminium Smelters are celebrating 10 years of working together.

Grandad makes 'cool' playground

Neil Hall watches his grandson, Jack Shepherd, having fun in the playground he built using a 1946 Austin truck.

Jack Shepherd is having a ball in the playground made by his grandad.

Ad Feedback