Plans for nationwide rescue helicopter shake-up

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

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.
MARJORIE COOK

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.
SUPPLIED

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.
ROBERT KITCHIN

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
Auckland

'Disruptive passenger' arrested

Police were called after reports of a disruptive passenger on an Air New Zealand flight at Christchurch airport. (FILE PHOTO)

Woman arrested for assault after spitting at Air NZ crew member on flight from Auckland to Christchurch.

House ablaze in Pukekohe

Fire crews were called to a large house fire in Pukekohe on Wednesday night.

Six fire crews are still battling a large house fire on Wednesday night.

Auckland boat shed selling for $700,000

The boathouses on Ngapipi Rd are well known to Auckland commuters.

It's got no value as a functioning boat shed and you'd have to fight to use it as a home.

US Coastguard calls in to NZ video

Petty Officers (Second Class) Chris Parmenter and Mandi Stevens supervise the deployment of a rescue raft from a US ...

A sinking boat fired flares and patients were winched out of choppy waters. Fear not, it was just a drill.

Wellington

Street name ruffles feathers

One Lower Hutt resident has argued against his street being named after the karearea. Ben Blackler argued the name would ...

Karearea Lane would be "problematic" and impractical, Lower Hutt resident claims.

Grow up, Wellington

Wellington's housing density could change in suburban areas if the Housing Forum recommendations are adopted.

Housing crisis can be solved by raising height limits in the suburbs, a report says.

Train improvements delayed

A planned upgrade of the Hutt Valley rail line has been put on hold while funding is sought.

Upgrades to capital's commuter trains put on ice while the council searches for $30m.

Capital buses to stop

Commuters are in for headaches as the new operator of Wellington's bus fleets hits an impasse with the drivers' union.

Some commuters are in for headaches as bus drivers hold stopwork meeting.

Canterbury

Adventure park wins design gong

Christchurch Adventure Park cafe, pictured here before the February fires, won a commercial architecture award.

Christchurch Adventure Park buildings saved from February's fires win a design award.

Woman spat on flight

Police were called after reports of a disruptive passenger on an Air New Zealand flight at Christchurch airport. (FILE PHOTO)

"Disruptive" woman arrested for assault after spitting at Air NZ crew member on flight from Auckland to Christchurch.

Chch's 'dirty 30' derelict buildings

Harley building on Cambridge Tce is understood to be one of the council's "dirty 30" derelict buildings.

Derelict properties said to be holding up the rebuild could be taken by the Crown.

Victim who hugged the robber

Secondhand bookshop worker Carol Bell hugged the man who robbed her at knifepoint.

Carol Bell could have been angry at the knifepoint robber. Instead, she hugged him.

Waikato

Massive moving monsters arrive

Daytona Barker, 7, Eloise Careswell-King, 7, and Kamryn Sewell, 8, learn about life before dinosaurs.

A new Waikato Museum exhibition uncovers life before the dinosaurs.

Docs fear winter rush

Waikato Hospital was over capacity this week.

No guarantee that Waikato Hospital won't again be stretched to overcapacity.

River death verdict: Not guilty

Neville Patrick Harris has been found not guilty of  manslaughter in the High Court in Hamilton.

Did Neville Harris kill Tama Retimana in trying to protect a woman? A jury will now decide.

Manhunt blocks SH1 

Police have placed a cordon on State Highway 30, near Whakamaru, during a manhunt on Wednesday.

Police warn motorists to avoid hitchhikers as they search for a man after a firearms incident.

Taranaki

Frank's shed comes down

Frank Amor's shed was described as an eyesore by one neighbour.

Frank loved his shed. The council did not. After 30 years it is finally gone.

Go on, knock it down

The town could look quite different to what it does today if Dey's plan is followed.

Gavin Dey reckons the answer to saving Stratford is to knock half its shops down.

Soggy sewer overflow

Treated sewage from Hawera is pumped about 2km out to sea off the coast.

A South Taranaki iwi is irked by a council move to dispose of extra treated wastewater through its offshore outfall.

The 1 per cent debate

Councillor Rick Coplestone said it didn't really matter how much rates went up by.

He's a councillor who doesn't care how much rates increase. Say what?

Manawatu

Another crack at worlds

Palmerston North's Kaitlyn Watts, here playing Megan Craig in the final of the Nelson Squash Open in March, is off to ...

Kaitlyn Watts is heading to another junior world squash championships.

Neighbours from Hell?

Hells Angels has set up base in the Palmerston North suburb of Hokowhitu.

A Hells Angels gang pad has sprung up in an upmarket area of Palmerston North.

Typhoid spreads

Typhoid has spread to Palmerston North.

A teenager in Palmerston North Hospital is confirmed as being infected.

Ex-Black Cap to artist

Ex-Black Cap Chris Martin's painting for a celebrity art auction raising money for disabilities charity Parent to ...

Black Caps' cult hero takes time out from grocery store to paint a work of art.

Nelson

Big bill for camping bylaw

02022017 FEATURE PHOTO BRADEN FASTIER /  FAIRFAX NZ
Freedom Campers at the Trafalgar Centre car-park at the end of Paru ...

Enforcing a proposed freedom camping bylaw could cost $100,000 a year.

Thieves ransack bakery

A police officer tapes off the front of the Mapua Village Bakery after the robbery early on Wednesday.

Three men smashed their way into the Mapua Village Bakery and threatened a worker.

Yoga bandit leaves class barefoot

Clients at  Nelson yoga school were forced to leave without their shoes after a thief stole their footwear on Tuesday ...

A Nelson yoga class was left barefoot after a thief stole shoes from a locker area.

Ferry benefits questioned

The terminal for the proposed Whanganui to Motueka ferry would be developed in the Moutere Estuary with open water ...

Proposed ferry between Motueka and Whanganui may deliver jobs, but at what cost?

Marlborough

Don't burst their bubble

Artist Mieke Davies came up with the idea of speech bubbles, to be filled in by young people in Marlborough.

Hundreds of "speech bubbles" in Blenheim alley waiting to be filled with the voices of young people. 

Affordability issues

Marlborough Sustainable Housing Trust chairwoman Bev James, right, in front of the first house the trust completed in ...

Rents are on the rise, and incomes are not keeping pace, leaving more families struggling to get a foot on the ladder.

Purpose-built priority

St Andrews Property Group is developing the former Country Life Motel, south of Blenheim, to house more than 400 ...

Vineyard contractors encouraged out of rental market as Blenheim faces housing shortage.

A new world for libraries

Children's library assistant Emily Fredrickson applies radio tags to books ahead of the new self-service system.

Self-service kiosks like those in supermarkets will soon appear in the libraries of Marlborough.

South Canterbury

Smokefree stir at Caroline Bay

Carnival volunteer Dave Woolstencroft often enjoys a cigarette at Caroline Bay, which health promoters have asked the ...

Carnival volunteer says complete smoking ban reminiscent of a 'police state". 

Enough meth to kill

Ashburton man Arran Gairns drowned with a lethal amount of methamphetamine in his blood.

Arran Gairns had a lethal level of meth in his blood when he died, toxicologist says.

SCDHB to appeal overtime decision

The South Canterbury District Health Board is appealing a ruling that staff should be paid for all of an on call shift, ...

South Canterbury District Health Board takes ruling over pay to the Employment Court.

Art show features national works

Lyttelton artist Martin Cole with Plunket art show committee member Sue Geaney set up Cole's sculptures made of ...

Timaru's 40th Plunket Art Show to feature works of more than 40 New Zealand artists.

Southland

60-minute challenge: Something is brewing

Eye reporter Joanna Griffiths learns how to make cyser mead with Southland Bee Society member Pat Hoffmann

I don't have the best track record with home brewed alcohol.

Uncovering the past

Donna Hawkins is working on a project in Southland on cemeteries.

Uncovering Southland's past in cemeteries.

Protecting your eyesight

Dipton man Mike Smith has macular degeneration and will be talking about the condition at a free public seminar in ...

Having someone stick a needle in his eye is no big thing for Dipton man Mike Smith.

Amundsen new deputy

Cr Rebecca Amundsen has been appointed deputy mayor by Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt, after Cr Darren Ludlow resigned ...

Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt has appointed his new deputy mayor.

Ad Feedback