The Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter team ended 2023 with a hectic programme, the 43 missions completed in December surpassed only by the 53 flown in February, when the region was in a State of Emergency after Cyclone Gabrielle.
Confirmed figures for the whole of 2023 show the Eastland Rescue Helicopter flew a total of 360 completed missions from their Gisborne hangar, as well as 122 flights for training, ferrying, maintenance and “other” purposes . . . a tally of 482 reported flights.
Compared to the year before that reflects a year-on-year increase of over 45 percent more completed missions than the 248 completed in 2022, and 38 percent more than the 2022 total of 349 reported flights.
That does not include the 134 missions that were abandoned or stood down, or were declined due to weather or other reasons.
“But while we don’t report those figures, we do record them and that’s really important,” says Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust chair Patrick Willock.
“They are used for analysing not just the actions of the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter, but also the demand for the service, and that is critical to future planning.
“Combined with the other numbers they confirm what our team already knew . . . that demand for this critical, lifesaving service is strong and increasing all the time.”
Meanwhile — and despite a day out-of-zone for scheduled maintenance – the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter flew four missions in the week from Monday, January 22.
In the early hours of January 24 (1am) the team responded to a medical event at Hicks Bay; on January 26 they were called to a medical event at Te Whare Hauora o Ngati Porou/Te Puia Springs Hospital (10am), then two hours later responded to another medical event, this time at Te Araroa; and on January 28 (3.23pm) they were called to a motor vehicle accident at Te Araroa.
In all four missions the patients were assessed, treated and flown in stable condition to Gisborne Hospital.
CAPTION: A BIG YEAR: One of the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter team’s last missions in what turned out to be a hectic year was their New Year’s Eve response to a medical event at Ruatoria.