Each time the Westpac Rescue Helicopter makes a potentially lifesaving trip, about $4000 an hour is needed to keep the vital service in the air.
That's on top of staff and equipment, with a set of night vision goggles for example setting the service back another $28,000.
So the chopper has launched an end of financial year appeal to help continue its important work rescuing, treating and transporting people in need.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service CEO Richard Jones said while the organisation had run the appeal for several years, it had a slightly different feel in 2021. This campaign involves a "behind the scenes" perspective with NSW Health and helicopter doctor Rob Bartolacci to show the public what the service does.
"With people like Dr Rob putting his hand up for the cause I think it just shows the proficiency of what we carry in the back of the aircraft," Mr Jones said. "This is pretty much a world class service. We're taking the trauma centre to the person in the field."
Dr Bartolacci said the idea was to highlight the chopper's medical capabilities as well as the rescue side.
"The aircraft is the most technically advanced aeromedical aircraft in the world," he said. "It's a mobile intensive care unit. It flies with a critical care medical team, comprised of a specialist doctor and a NSW Ambulance intensive care paramedic.
"The doctors are all sourced from three of the critical care areas within the hospital; either anesthesia, emergency medicine or intensive care. We can do anything in the aircraft that can be done in a major trauma hospital. We can anesthetise people, we can give blood transfusions, we can give pain relief, we can do surgical procedures to a certain degree, we can support blood pressure, breathing, we can restart people's hearts."
In the first four months of 2021 the service's three bases at Newcastle, Tamworth and Lismore have flown more than 500 missions and on average, the service flies more than 1500 missions a year.
"It's hard to imagine in the Hunter region and in northern NSW to go to any social event and not have anyone there who's been helped or knows someone who has been helped by the aircraft," Dr Bartolacci said.
"It's a busy service and we are a charity. We have great corporate sponsors, but we do rely on the community so it is important for us to try and keep that funding coming so we can continue to save lives."
Mr Jones said the appeal came after a difficult period for all charities.
"It's been a tough couple of years," he said. "From fires into floods into COVID. It's been a pretty horrible time for everyone. We've been really blown away by the generosity by our supporters and the wider community right through last year considering all those things.
"Whilst the donations weren't all that big individually, it was a lot of small ones. I like to say a little bit from a lot of people makes a big difference. Some people were extra generous and I think its the fact of what we do which is in the news everyday sadly.
"People get involved with a charity because it has affected their life somehow. And we're right across the board. It doesn't matter how much you earn or where you live, chances are that you or someone you know might need a transport."
He said during last year's lockdown, the service did less flights as people weren't out and about. But that quickly changed as restrictions eased.
"It's certainly kicked back to pre-COVID levels and the more you fly them, the more you've got to fix them so the maintenance burden continues to rise," he said. "We're back to business as normal, so these sorts of appeals are vitally important to us."
To donate, visit rescuehelicopter.com.au/appeal or call 1800 155 155.
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