Editorial - Wednesday, May 6: Lifesavers of the sky
IT'S an emergency service this community wholeheartedly supports in the hope we never need it ourselves.
The reality is someone, across an 80,000 square kilometre flight path from the Tweed to Macksville, will always rely on the North Coast's Westpac Rescue Lifesaver Helicopter Service.
Each year the emergency service costs more than $4 million to run, and since its foundation in 1982 the demand on its services has grown annually to around seven missions each week
During 2013/14, it flew 534 flights - 358 of which were missions, including search and rescues.
In 33 years, the service's helicopters have flown more than 7600 flights, yet the biggest statistic alluding the public is how many people owe their lives to the helicopter crews.
It's a figure that can never be known for sure, but the local stories of patients and the generous community support speaks volumes.
Last year a staggering $652,000 was raised by local businesses and employees, who were happy to sacrifice a small amount of their salary to keep the helicopters flying.
Your chance to equal those in-kind donations comes this Saturday as The Advocate carries the service's appeal envelopes.