Media release

Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust Presents Annual Report to ORC

Tuesday 17 September 2019

An upgraded helicopter fleet, rising rescue numbers, improved GPS routes, and new medical equipment were the headlines of the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust’s presentation of their annual report to the Otago Regional Council (ORC) last week.

ORC Finance and Corporate Chair Doug Brown said the operator of the rescue helicopter service, HeliOtago, has had a busy year, undertaking 1,200 patient retrievals, up 17% on the previous year.

“It’s always great to get these reports from the rescue helicopter team and to see the benefits of their work in the community. It’s been a busy year for them with a significant uptick in the number of rescues, but also significant enhancements to the service.

We’re really pleased to continue our support of such a vital service for the Otago region.”

ORC donates $350,000 to the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust annually.

The annual report was presented at an ORC committee meeting by the Trust’s Chairman Martin Dippie, Chief Pilot Graeme Gale, and Trust Secretary/Manager Vivienne Seaton.

Their presentation covered a series of enhancements to the rescue helicopter service that now includes three dedicated machines in Dunedin and one in Queenstown, all with dedicated crews of pilots and paramedics available 24/7. In addition, a machine can be called on in Te Anau as available.

During the year, the life-saving medical equipment on board the helicopters has been replaced and upgraded, and new GPS routes have been developed for enhanced safety and the ability to fly in previously restrictive weather conditions

Trust Chairman Martin Dippie thanked the community for its support.

“During the year to June, the Trust received generous community donations from groups and individuals, and this support is necessary to ensure the ongoing delivery of this much needed service in our geographically challenging area.”

Mr Dippie also recorded the community’s heartfelt thanks to the teams of pilots and intensive care paramedics who respond to every emergency request, often flying in challenging weather conditions and over difficult terrain to bring advanced medical capability to those in need.

The Trust’s annual report can be viewed online from here: