On 4 April 2014 Paul Jackson, Shenhua Project Manager and Debbie Watson, Shenhua Community Liaison Officer visited the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service operation in Tamworth. Whilst there they inspected the facility and learnt firsthand of the essential services that are provided to the mining industry and the community across NSW.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service commenced operations in the New England North West region in 2000; they are based out of Tamworth. In 2010 the operation moved into a modern purpose built facility that is ready to handle the future needs of the region.
The Service is contracted to provide aero medical rescue services for the NSW Health Department. Their primary mission is to attend accident scenes; ambulance paramedics are transported to the accident and then the injured patients are transferred to hospitals for specialist care. The secondary missions are inter-hospital transfers, where medical retrieval teams transport patients to other hospitals where they receive the care they require. The Service is also involved in search and rescue, working in conjunction with other government agencies to locate missing or injured people.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service in the New England North West region operates on an annual budget of $3.4 million. 50% of this funding comes through a combination of community and corporate support. The remaining 50% is provided by the NSW Health Department and administered through the NSW ambulance service.
The Service has a close relationship with the mining industry within the Gunnedah basin, and they work closely with all companies in regard to helipad locations and coordinates. The mining industry supports the Service through sponsorship, employee contributions and event partnerships, in the vicinity of $300,000 per year in the New England North West region.
The Tamworth Service carries out over 250 missions per year (approximately five missions per week) at any time of the day or night. It has been announced that beginning in 2015, a Doctor will be on board every flight and the base will be fully operational 24/7. All funds raised in the New England North West region go directly to ensure the safety of the local community and the continued operation of the Service.
The visit provided a great opportunity for Shenhua Watermark Coal and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service to establish an essential relationship.
Officer, Debbie Watson inspect the Westpac Rescue Helicopter
with David Davies, Senior Pilot and Sean Maher, Senior Crewman