The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has marked a milestone by flying its 10,000th mission.
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has marked a milestone by flying its 10,000th mission.

Chopper chalks up milestone with 10,000th mission

THE Lismore-based Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has recently surpassed a significant milestone by flying its 10,000th mission.

"The mission was a tasking to perform a patient transfer between two hospitals in our region,'' said CEO Richard Jones (OAM).

The region's first Westpac rescue helicopter was launched in Ballina in December 1982 thanks to the vision of local individuals and organisations such as Elton Cummings, Graham Smith, John Bradfield and Surf Life Saving Far North Coast. It is thanks to a proud and passionate community that it has continually evolved and improved for 38 years.

In partnership with NSW Ambulance, the local service now completes an average of more than 400 missions each year from Lismore Airport. It operates 24-7 with a NSW Ambulance critical care paramedic and NSW Health doctor providing advanced medical care on every rescue.

Along with Tamworth and Belmont, the Lismore base is one of three operations providing an integrated helicopter emergency medical service throughout northern NSW and flying on average more than 1500 missions a year. These include search and rescue, pre-hospital emergencies and inter-hospital transfers.

Mr Jones credits the medical component of the service as one of the most significant developments in 38 years.

"The diagnostic and medical equipment inside the helicopter, along with the incredible paramedics and doctors, means the care provided is world class. Ultimately, that's helping to save lives," he said.

"Right from the start, communities of the Far North Coast, New England and Mid North Coast have passionately supported the need for a rescue helicopter.

"This milestone is a chance to acknowledge everyone, including former figure heads of fundraising committees and boards: Wal Gillam, Bruce Duncan, Michael Byrne, Harold Fredricks and Warren Tozer; CEOs Perry Wells and Kris Beavis; patron of the service Ken Jolley; former board and fundraising committee members; former volunteers including Mary and Emily Betteridge; along with all former staff who have been associated with this region's helicopter services throughout the past 38 years."