QTown gets rescue chopper

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Queenstown will have a fully dedicated air ambulance service, and a bigger, better specced chopper, in an agreement on national air ambo service announced today.

From November 1, when the contract begins, the resort will have a dedicated day-time service, and and an on-call services overnight.

The current on-call service from Te Anau will continue.

Health Minister David Clark says the agreement for the southern region agreement has been signed with new provider Helicopter Emergency Medical Services New Zealand Limited (HEMS).

HEMS is a joint venture between Helicopters Otago and GCH Aviation, of Christchurch.

It will be supported by existing trusts, and funds raised by each trust will continue to support services in their area.

The future of the Te Anau rescue helicopter service was in doubt this year, but Dr Clark confirmed all existing bases in the South Island will continue operating.

In Christchurch and Dunedin, the air ambulance service will operate 24/7 with dedicated crews constantly available.

Bases in Nelson, Greymouth and Queenstown will have dedicated crews during the day and crews on-call overnight.

It is the first time Queenstown will have dedicated rescue helicopter cover.

Dr Clark said Queenstown will be covered by a larger helicopter with better technical specifications, as will Greymouth.

“And I know that confirmation that the current on-call service from Te Anau will continue will be welcome by people in the south west of the South Island,” he said.

“Our current air ambulance services have done a great job over the years. This new arrangement will help them build on their existing strengths and strong community relationships.”