ABOVE: Cheque presentation to Tamworth Westpac Helicopter base: Company Secretary Pete Alcock, Engineer Shane Zoutendyk, Wee Waa Westpac Rescue Helicopter Support Group Chair Sharon Grellman, Engineer Dean Weik, Advisory Board Chair Max Cathcart, Safety Officer Robert Jenkins, Engineer Pete McInnes, Chief Pilot and Tamworth Base Manager Dave Davies.
The Northern NSW Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service is set to become one of the top five Emergency Medical Service (EMS) models in the world.
The Tamworth base, which services the north west region, is preparing to begin a new contract which will see the service area expand to include much of the north of the state.
The new contract, beginning in March 2017, will mean a higher standard of service and safety for local communities.
As part of the two year implementation phase, doctors and paramedics have already become part of the essential service operating out of Tamworth.
Since a doctor and paramedic became based at the Tamworth base of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, missions from Tamworth have risen 70%.
Response times are quicker and the base, which is in the process of redevelopment, has become a one stop shop for medical retrieval.
With the expansion of the Tamworth base and a new helicopter due in 2017, locals can be reassured that the vital service will remain free.
The new helicopter will have improved capabilities, such as larger interior, better fuel efficiency and increased speeds.
Local support group chairperson and Advisory Board member, Sharon Grellman, acknowledged the valuable support of the local community in raising funds.
The Wee Waa Westpac Rescue Helicopter support group conducts fundraising activities and acts as a conduit between the local community and the Tamworth base.
Recently the group received $3418 from the Cubbaroo Polocrosse Club and $250 from Cubbaroo Campdraft.
The funds were passed on to the Tamworth base at a meeting last week.
The donation followed the Westpac Rescue Helicopter’s attendance at a horse riding accident which left Wee Waa local, Rhys Mortimer, in a coma.
Rhys was provided emergency care and airlifted to Newcastle.
He has made a full recovery and will return home this week, but his accident brought the importance of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter to the fore for many locals.
The support group is also preparing for its annual golf day on September 27th. The service will celebrate its 40th birthday on December 6.