THE CEO of the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, Richard Jones OAM, has today announced a list of major updates to the Northern NSW service that will see it enter a brand new era, including a new aircraft and partnerships.
Mr Jones confirmed that the Service has successfully completed its introduction of the new Augusta Westland AW139 Helicopter in Lismore.
The new aircraft replaces the previous twin engine Dauphin SA365N2, and has been tasked to 21 missions in the first 21 days of June.
The aircraft is said to offer significant improvements in speed, range, flying endurance and advanced on-board medical and rescue capabilities. It is capable of carrying two stretcher patients or two newborn cribs.
"The AW139 is an incredible aircraft that will serve our community well. It is safer, faster and stronger with a highly regarded medical fit-out which supports the on board medical crew and the diversity of our operational responses," Mr Jones said.
The Service has also announced it has commenced a new 10-year partnership with NSW Ambulance and NSW Health Local Health Districts in order to deliver further improvement in out-of-hospital critical care to aero-medical patients.
A trained NSW Ambulance specialist helicopter paramedic and a NSW helicopter doctor will now be available on every flight.
"The aircraft will be flown by an exceptional team of local pilots and crew, and the care provided by the NSW Ambulance Paramedics and NSW Health helicopter doctors is first class, with additional specialist care if required," said Mr Jones.
Thirdly, the Service has joined forces with its counterparts in the Hunter, New England and North West Regions. Richard Jones OAM will lead the Service as Chief Executive Officer, and the Service will operate 24/7 from three bases in Lismore, Tamworth and Newcastle.
Local Regional Advisory Committees will also be established this year in order to assist and advise the Board and Senior Management Team on matters relevant to each local region.
"The Regional Advisory Committee will include skilled and qualified business people from the local community to ensure decisions made are in the best interests of the Service and our local communities," said Mr Jones.
In March, the NSW Government also announced it was investing $151 million in the helicopter emergency medical services statewide.
The costs to run the Service are jointly funded by the NSW Government, corporate partnerships and community support.
"The community has supported the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter throughout its 35 year history, and I would like to say thank you for this continual support," said Mr Jones.