A long-time member of the Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter team has finally retired but it’s not one of the team . . . it’s the trusty red Mazda 3 that has served as crew car for the past few years.
“It has certainly been a useful and reliable vehicle,” says critical care flight paramedic/base manager Richard Curtis.
“But it was over a dozen years old and with those kilometres ticking over it was time to let her go.”
So the team has upgraded with a hybrid Ford Escape sports utility vehicle.
The Kiwi Gaming Foundation (KGF) approved a grant to the EHRT of just over $43,000 for the new Escape, adding to the $45,000 it granted earlier in the year for the purchase and fit-out of a matching vehicle for the critical care flight paramedics.
“There was a small shortfall but KGF kindly allowed us to apply the funds from selling the red Mazda so we could have a consistent and eco-friendly fleet,” says EHRT treasurer Ian Parker.
“Even so, we would not be able to have such useful upgrades – and subsequent servicing – without the ongoing support of our local Ford dealer, Gisborne Motors.”
Gisborne Motors also supplies EHRT with a Ford Ranger ute which, in addition to being a transport vehicle, tows critical equipment like the fuel trailer the team sometimes needs to access in remote locations.
“Each year that ute goes under the hammer at our Annual Charity Auction with anything over the reserve going to the Trust,” says Ian, “and for that we are incredibly grateful.”
Meanwhile, Richard Curtis says the timing of the new vehicle’s arrival could not be better.
“We’ve had two new crew members come on (and another due in January) and they need to do a lot of travel to training bases. Doing those distances – with the roads being what they are at the moment – it’s been important to have a reliable vehicle at their disposal.
“We do need sports utility-style vehicles to ensure they are safe and efficient in all conditions, including if we have to go off-road.
“Good vehicles are vital both for rapid response if team members are out of the hangar, and to supply critical on-land support services when they are required.”
The team took delivery of the new Escape in October but it was so quickly pressed into service that it took two months to get it sign-written.
“It’s great that it’s been available to our new crew so they could get to where they needed to go to really lock in their skills,” says Richard.
“But it’s also great to get it back so it is available for use by the entire team.”
Under the terms of its service supply contract the Eastland Helicopter Rescue Trust (EHRT) has an obligation to provide the team with equipment including vehicles, says treasurer Ian Parker.
“We try to do that through our ongoing fundraising efforts but big-ticket items like vehicles can put a big dent in the Trust’s resources,” he says.
“So backing from supporters like the Kiwi Gaming Foundation and Gisborne Motors really make a difference in helping us keep the team in the air doing what they do best. Saving time and saving lives.”
CAPTION: Trust Tairāwhiti Eastland Rescue Helicopter critical care flight paramedic/base manager Richard Curtis says the new Kiwi Gaming Foundation-funded Ford Escape is a welcome – and timely – addition.