The need for the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter to upgrade to an Instrument Flight Rules-capable aircraft became even more clear after the team’s work was hampered by a week of low-lying cloud.
The upgrade from Visual Flight Rules would not just mean a new helicopter . . . to enable safe piloting it would also require the installation of flight paths along critical routes like the East Coast.
“It is a big project, and a very expensive project, but one that is vital to ensuring the team can operate when they are most needed,” says Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust chair Patrick Willock.
“So that’s going to be a big focus for us going forward.”
Despite the conditions the team managed to fly three successful missions in the week from Monday, November 20 but were turned back from one attempt, on Saturday, due to cloud conditions.
The completed missions were:
– November 23 (12noon) – The Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter was called to a medical event at Te Araroa, from where the patient, who was flown in a stable condition to Gisborne Hospital.
– November 24 (11am) – The team responded to a medical event at Te Kaha, where the on-board critical care flight paramedic assessed and treated the patient, who was flown in a critical condition to Tauranga Hospital.
– November 26 (3pm) – Called to a trauma at Te Araroa, the team flew the patient in a stable condition to Gisborne Hospital.
CAPTION: The Hato Hone St John team were on-scene for handover when the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter on Sunday flew to Te Araroa in response to a trauma. The patient was flown in a stable condition to Gisborne Hospital.