Night vision for rescue choppers

A $300,000 project to boost the capabilities of the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has taken to the skies.

The helicopters have been fitted with high-tech night vision goggles (NVGs) to be worn by pilots and chief crew members on search-and-rescue missions and other operations during the night.

Chief pilot Lynton Beggs said the goggles greatly magnified the smallest light sources – such as a mobile phone, a cigarette lighter or a small battery-operated torch – from up to five kilometres away.

“This means the crew’s ability to pinpoint lost bush walkers, for instance, has been greatly enhanced,” he said.

“The goggles will improve the chances of rescue for people who are injured or lost at night and in need of urgent medical attention.

“It also means the helicopter will be available to help in more police search-and-rescue activities after dark.”

The four NVG units cost a total of $60,000. But costs involved in modifying helicopter cockpit lighting, the purchase of compatible crew helmets and the provision of NVG training for crew members have taken the overall cost to $300,000.

“The use of NVGs is the single most important risk-reduction strategy the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service can implement,” Mr Beggs said.



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