Rescue chopper launches new service

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From left Willy Leferink, Bruce Kell, David Keeley and Warren Harris PHOTO DANIEL TOBIN

Watching the Westpac rescue helicopter landing near the Ashburton Aviation Museum last week was a familiar sight for Nicola Smith and daughter Samantha.

But the pleasant Thursday afternoon at the Ashburton Airport was in stark contrast to the emergency flight they took in October last year after Samantha suffered a seizure at home.

Nicola Smith and daughter Samantha.

The Smith family live 30 minutes out of Ashburton, and when the seizure caused Samantha breathing difficulties she was driven into Ashburton where the rescue helicopter was called in to fly Samantha and her mum to Christchurch Hospital.

“They were so great they were really good, we were so lucky the service is there,” Nicola said.

Four fit looking gentlemen were also on hand at the museum hangar checking out the aircraft. Locals Willy Leferink, David Keeley, Bruce Kell and Warren Harris plan to bike 3000km from Cape Reinga to Bluff to raise money for the Westpac rescue helicopter service.

Personal reasons motivated the men as both Bruce’s father and Warren’s mother had been in the rescue helicopter.

“It’s just such good cause for the Canterbury region, you never know when you’re going to need it,” Bruce said.

The four intrepid riders start their campaign on February 25, 2022 and aim to complete the journey in 25 days.

If you would like to support the men, visit their Givealittle page.

The Airbus H-145 helicopter was in Ashburton to launch a new instrument flight rules (IFR) service for the district, which will allow helicopters to fly and land in compromised weather.

Canterbury West Coast Air Rescue Trust chief executive Christine Prince says IFR is a significant development for the rescue helicopter service in Canterbury and allows the Westpac rescue helicopter and crew to operate in more compromised weather conditions

problematic in Mid Canterbury region, and IFR will be a game changer, enabling the crew to fly in these conditions and save lives.

Ashburton we are anticipating missions will increase by up to 30% due to this new technology.”

Mid Canterbury rescues average around 25% of all Canterbury missions for the year, and the number is on the rise.

increasing number of inter-hospital transfers from Ashburton.

we conducted two missions to the affected areas. We flew an inter-hospital transfer from Ashburton, and helped a farmer who had an accident and was affected by the floods. In the following days, our missions increased to the area due to the situation with Ashburton Bridge.

Instrument pilots must meticulously evaluate weather, create a detailed flight plan based around specific instrument departure, en route, and arrival procedures.

By Daniel Tobin