Public support needed for Chopper crews after record year of rescues

New Zealanders are being urged to give generously this Chopper Appeal Month following a record-breaking year for rescue helicopters.

More than 9,500 missions were flown nationwide last year, including 1,239 missions in the Auckland and Coromandel regions.

This Friday, Westpac staff around the country will be out and about raising funds for their local rescue helicopter service in the annual fundraising street appeal.

Westpac NZ Chief Executive Catherine McGrath says the rescue helicopter crews are working harder than ever to save lives.

“Accident and illness can affect any of us at any time,” she says.

“Knowing help could be only minutes away even in some of our most remote locations is so important in a country as diverse as ours. And when we’ve learned over the last couple of years that we can live, work and explore from almost anywhere, knowing the chopper crews are there for you when you need them is so important.

“We know that living is getting more expensive, so every dollar donated is incredibly appreciated. All money donated in your region goes straight to your local chopper service, so you know that your donation is supporting your community.”

Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust Communications Manager Lincoln Davies says the public’s generosity has helped the trust keep improving the capabilities of its aircraft and crew.

“It’s great to see people out exploring our own beautiful country at every opportunity, but it does mean we’ve seen an increase in people needing our assistance,” Mr Davies says.

“Donations from the public help keep our Westpac Rescue Helicopters in the sky, and we’re hugely grateful for everyone who’s able to donate over the month of May.”

New Year’s Day could have been the last for Tony Moyes, who suffered a cardiac event ten metres underwater while diving for crayfish, not far from Opito Bay.

Trying not to panic, he felt he had been “kicked in the chest by a horse.”

With the help of his dive buddy, he made it back to his friends’ yacht where Tony’s wife, Marianne, called 111. The couple were amazed at how quickly the Westpac Rescue Helicopter arrived at their remote location.

Tony was flown to Waikato Hospital in a critical condition before undergoing heart surgery.

“I am so grateful for the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter helping save my husband’s life,” Marianne says.

Westpac funds the marketing and administration costs of the Chopper Appeal, as well as distributing all funds raised back to donors’ local rescue helicopter trust.

People wishing to make a donation or find out more information can visit www.chopperappeal.co.nz.

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