IT’S been a hectic start to 2019 for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service (WRHS), with crews attending more than 100 missions over the opening couple of months.
The WRHS is vital to the region as it provides a fast and effective medical treatment to those in need and a crucial link to major hospitals in Newcastle, Tamworth and Sydney.
Each month, the service responds to numerous call outs in the Hunter Valley.
And, the beginning of the year has been no different.
Both the Newcastle and Tamworth-based aircraft, which provide coverage to the Upper Hunter, were tasked to in excess of 59 missions in January and a further 59 in February.
“The service can be requested for several reasons, including primary missions (to attend an accident site, to treat and transfer patients to hospital), secondary missions (to transfer patients between hospitals for specialist treatment) and search and rescue (help to locate missing people, rescue and return to safety),” Upper Hunter-Central West community liaison officer Danny Eather said.
“In January, the Australia Day long weekend proved to be extremely busy period for crews with 12 missions being flown in just a three-day period.
“It further demonstrates the vast distances that the rescue helicopter is able to respond to with these missions taking place in in Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour, Dungog, Port Stephens, Scone and Dubbo.
“On January 29, the helicopter was tasked to a male patient with a medical condition from Muswellbrook District Hospital to John Hunter Hospital for specialist treatment.
“Then days later, the Tamworth-based helicopter was tasked to assist with searching for a missing male at Glenbawn Dam, who was eventually located by local SES teams.
“On February 2, the WRHS made its way to Scone to attend a riding competition where an 18-year-old male had been thrown from a bull.
“The helicopter’s critical care medical team treated the patient for head injuries before transporting him to the John Hunter Hospital for further treatment.
“On February 6, the service was called to Muswellbrook District Hospital to undertake an inter-hospital transfer for a 65-year-old male suffering severe asthma to Hornsby Hospital for specialist treatment.
“Then on two consecutive days, the helicopter was tasked to the Singleton area for two separate primary missions.
“On February 16, a 21-year-old male suffered leg fractures as a result of falling from a motorbike and, on the following day, a 45-year-old man and an 11-year-old youngster were treated at the scene of a motor vehicle accident.
“The patients of both missions were transported to John Hunter Hospital for further treatment.
“So, residents can probably understand why we need to keep this service in the air.”