The McGowan Labor Government will invest $26.7 million in a significant upgrade of the Emergency Rescue Helicopter Service (ERHS) that will deliver three next-generation aircraft with increased range and enhanced technology.
Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson announced the State Government had signed a new contract with existing provider CHC Helicopter Australia to secure the life-saving service for the next decade.
CHC will partner with the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to deliver a significant upgrade to the service, replacing the two primary and backup rescue helicopters with newer models that can operate within a 350 kilometre radius of their bases at Bunbury and Jandakot, expanding the range by 75 per cent.
The new fleet will be online and ready to assist WA communities from late 2023.
Capable of being airborne in less than 15 minutes, the ERHS has flown almost 9,000 missions since it first took flight in 2003, providing vital search and rescue and critical aeromedical services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
As stated by Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson:
“The McGowan Government continues its commitment to investing in our State’s emergency response, with a major upgrade to our vital Emergency Rescue Helicopter Service.
“In the direst times of need, the Emergency Rescue Helicopter Service has saved thousands of Western Australian lives and supported some of the most complex emergency operations across our wide and rugged State.
“With the service approaching 20 years of operations, we’re proud to deliver three new state-of-the-art helicopters that will expand the current range and feature some of the most advanced technology available.
“This will provide an even greater service for Western Australia and ensures our State has a word-class aeromedical rescue service for the next 10 years.
“In another great outcome for WA, the mission equipment fit-out will be constructed and installed in Perth, supporting local jobs and development of the aerospace industry.”
As stated by Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM:
“The Emergency Rescue Helicopter Service is adaptable to respond to a range of emergencies, including major traffic crashes, searches, and cliff and sea rescues, often in areas that are inaccessible by other means.
“Capable of being airborne in less than 15 minutes, the rapid speed with which we can respond and provide assistance can often be the difference in emergency situations.
“This significant upgrade will provide even more capability to support cyclones and flooding in remote areas and respond to bushfires where medical evacuations are required.
“The fit-out includes improved night vision imaging systems to respond to incidents at all hours, search and rescue radars to access difficult terrain and complete complex rescues, and the most advanced critical care aeromedical equipment of any rescue helicopter in Australia.”