Statistics are saying 2016 is tracking as the busiest year on record for the Northland Rescue Helicopter, responding to 466 requests for assistance to date – up from 404 this time last year.
Although only half way through the year, the increased total percentage of flights means the rescue helicopter is very likely to eclipse last year’s total flight number of 863.
Chief pilot and CEO, Peter Turnbull, says the year-on-year increases has put an increased demand on the service.
“Our team of dedicated pilots and St John paramedics work around the clock to ensure the Northland community and those visiting it are in good hands if something goes wrong.
“The increased demand means the team have had to become even more efficient and focused during these missions while also maintaining the highest standard of patient care.”
Much like last year, January was the busiest month so far, with the team responding to up to six callouts per day and completing six winch rescues (compared to an annual average of 20).
April was also busy, with the helicopters responding to 85 callouts, compared with 76 in 2015. The missions included a mix of accident and emergency callouts and flying patients from small rural communities in Northland to Whangarei and Auckland Hospitals.
Interestingly 2016 has seen a rise in night missions compared to previous years, with the service attending 156 so far this year.
“Night rescues paired with the unpredictable weather at this time of year has meant we are using the full capability of the aircraft during a lot of our missions. Our night vision goggles and GPS routes have been extremely useful and allowed us to get on with our rescues despite the conditions and time of day,” says Mr Turnbull.
All patients transported by the Northland Rescue Helicopter are looked after by specialised St John intensive care paramedics who maintain the highest standards of patient care and travel alongside the service on every rescue mission.