The Surf Life Saving Westpac Rescue Helicopter that's commonly used in ocean rescues in NSW.
The Surf Life Saving Westpac Rescue Helicopter that's commonly used in ocean rescues in NSW. SLS

Push for a Coffs search and rescue helicopter service

MOMENTUM is building behind the push for a new Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service to be based out of Coffs Harbour.

The permanent search and rescue service, proposed by Surf Life Saving Australia, is reliant on a $2.5 million funding grant from the State Government - and would be run separately to the Lismore-based rescue helicopter service, which is regarded as a flying intensive care unit.

The funding case for a Coffs Coast-based search and rescue helicopter was again pitched to the State Government in December, as the region made international headlines after four people drowned at Moonee Beach on the same week.

The service, which is reliant on a $2.5 million grant, would be run by Surf Life Saving Australia to complement the rescue helicopter that it operates in Sydney in a bid to save lives in northern NSW.

In the latest development, Independent candidate for Cowper Rob Oakeshott has backed the proposal and is today urging the community to get behind the plan.

"Coffs Harbour has a real opportunity to be the home of a North Coast Westpac Rescue Helicopter service, and it's an opportunity worth grabbing," Mr Oakeshott said.

 

The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter based out of Lismore is part of a fleet of flying intensive care helicopters that also has bases at Newcastle and Tamworth. While the proposed Coffs Coast service would be run by Surf Life Saving Australia.
The Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter based out of Lismore is part of a fleet of flying intensive care helicopters that also has bases at Newcastle and Tamworth. While the proposed Coffs Coast service would be run by Surf Life Saving Australia.

"Business proposals have been pitched to Government in the past and, for some reason, have not garnered support. The time to make this happen is now. The spin-off benefits for the whole community would be significant.

"We are coming off the back of what has been a difficult summer for critical incidents across the Mid North Coast. Having a helicopter based locally would make a huge difference to incident response times in circumstances where every minute really matters," he said.

Mr Oakeshott said bringing the service to Coffs would require support from all levels of government and a full blown fundraising effort would be needed to make it happen.

"If I am elected, this will be organised quickly. I will back this project in," he said.



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