A pearl in the north

Northland Rescue Helicopter pilot, Steve Couchman, has been with the service 14 years, and in that time has transported more than 1,000 patients

The Northland Rescue Helicopter service is preparing to celebrate 30 years in the air as the 2018 fundraising appeal begins. Until the end of November, the service will be involved in numerous activities throughout the Kaipara and other districts, to pay tribute to the thousands of lives involved since the first flight on November 17, 1988.

Last year $307,000 was raised, and the aim is to raise a similar amount this year due to the increasing operational costs facing the air ambulance service.

Northland electricity lines companies, Northpower and Top Energy, will contribute $100,000 and $50,000 respectively to the cause, along with managing the appeal campaign.

Northland Rescue Helicopter chairman, Paul Ahlers, says that continued local business support is crucial as the service is only partially funded by the government.

“Northpower and Top Energy have been sponsoring us since day one and we could not have got this service off the ground without them. Their support has been critical to us — just as support from other businesses and members of the public has been over three decades,” said Mr Ahlers.

“We are also really appreciative of the ongoing support we receive from the Northland Regional Council — that backing has been a substantial boost to helping us meet our annual shortfall of costs and key to us being able to afford to upgrade our helicopter fleet.”

The Northland Rescue Helicopter Service has flown more than 20,000 missions since 1988 and has been instrumental in saving thousands of lives.


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