Members of the Taranaki Air Ambulance Trust opened their new centre on Saturday.
The $500,000 project was funded mainly through donations and in stark contrast to 2006 when the trust formed, trust chairman Bruce Findlay said. "In the early days we were struggling to buy stretchers and the resources we needed.
"This [centre] is a fantastic result that we have had. We are indebted and humbled by the donations that have got us here."
The air ambulance flies patients to life-changing or life-saving medical care not available in Taranaki. The new centre is at New Plymouth airport.
Findlay put the growing success of the trust down to steely determination, a bold business plan and the help of Taranaki people.
"We transfer on average more than one patient a day," he said. "Our need for funds is ongoing, and almost insatiable some would say, but we are needy, not greedy."
Whanganui MP Chester Borrows cut the ribbon and sang the praises of the volunteers of the trust. "Thank you for all that you have done to get us this far," he said. "Tomorrow or this afternoon, I may very well need the air ambulance. It is the nature of the lives we lead."
Trust aviation manager Warren Fulljames was also at the opening ceremony.
The next flying leap for the Taranaki Air Ambulance Trust is a new, better-equipped plane.
At present the trust uses a 35-year-old, unpressurised piston engine aircraft, which it believes can no longer provide the service the people of Taranaki deserve.
Late last year the trust began assessing aircraft that would be a suitable replacement. And they found one in the PC12.
The region's air ambulance trust was working closely with the Royal Flying Doctor Service to buy a fully kitted-out plane on offer for about $2 million, trust chairman Bruce Findlay said.
The PC12 is a single-engine, gas turbine pressurised aircraft with a big cargo door at the rear, and a passenger door at the front.
It's also nice to look at. The trust had one on display at the opening of the centre and the difference between the two aircraft was vast.
The PC12 is roomier, allowing for two stretcher patients, plus medical attendants and equipment.
"We make no apologies, it is expensive, but it is the best," Findlay said. "It's waiting to be picked up when we can afford it."
The trust must raise $2m for the PC12 and anyone interested in helping can contact the trust on (06) 755 1542.
- Taranaki Daily News
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