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Byron Shire
February 5, 2023

Tweed Council donates to helicopter rescue service

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Mayor Chris Cherry and Council’s Community Disaster Resilience Officer Zoe Fobian meet with Westpac Rescue Helicopter crewman Tommy Lee Lewes on the helipad at their Lismore base.

Tweed Shire Council has thrown its support behind the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, donating more than $16,800 to the vital aeromedical service this week.

Mayor of Tweed Shire Chris Cherry visited the service’s Lismore base recently to present the funding to the only dedicated medical rescue helicopter service in northern NSW.

‘We are so grateful for the incredible service the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service team provides to the residents of the Tweed,’ said Cr Cherry.

‘From winching people out of floodwaters, to flying road crash victims to emergency hospital care, to conducting vital search and rescue operations, the service is often the difference between life and death for so many in our community.

‘We are very pleased to be able to provide what support we can to this incredible service and thank them for all their hard work over the past year – particularly during the major flood event, which saw the service operate continually across the region despite being inundated themselves.’

Where the money’s going

Councillors agreed earlier this year to continue the Tweed’s annual support of the vital service, approving a donation of $16,859 to be funded from Council’s 2022/23 Budget.

Funds donated to the service are used for the upkeep and maintenance of their rescue helicopter, fuel, training for staff and more. Last year’s Tweed donation went towards building a storage facility at the hangar.

Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service Major Gifts & Donors Manager Zeke Huish thanked the Tweed for its support.

‘Tweed Shire Council’s support is very significant and is something we do not take for granted,’ said Mr Huish. ‘As a local charity we can’t thank Council and the residents of the Tweed Shire enough for their continued support to help us save lives throughout the region.’

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter on standby at the service’s Lismore base.

Busy service

In 2021/22, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service completed 1,494 missions across Northern NSW from its bases in Newcastle, Tamworth, and Lismore.

In all, 413 of these missions were performed from their Lismore base which services the region from Nambucca through to the Queensland border and west to Tenterfield.

Their missions cover a wide variety of medical emergencies, including search and rescue operations, injuries from motor vehicles and motorcycle accidents, medical conditions, industrial and sporting injuries, burns, drownings and falls, as well as inter-hospital transfers.

The Northern Rivers-based service has been in operation since 1982 and has grown to become a vital 24-7 aeromedical operation. It is reliant upon community fundraising and partnerships to ensure its quality, reliability, and sustainability.

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