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Rescue helicopter adapting to protect community

Taupo's Greenlea Rescue Helicopter pilot in PPE gear. Supplied photos.

The streets may be quieter, the bike tracks empty, and the parks abandoned. But unfortunately, accidents still happen.

From rolled cars, to serious medical events, one charity working through the COVID-19 lockdown to ensure we can all get to the hospital quickly and safely is the TECT Rescue Helicopter.

While the service is still fully operational, new precautionary measures are being taken to protect the safety and wellbeing of our local crew and their patients.

The Intensive Care Paramedics now wear a full coverall, two pairs of gloves, a half face mask with filters or a N95 mask.

Pilots are also covering up for protection, wearing coveralls, a surgical mask and gloves throughout flights.

Philips Search & Rescue Marketing Manager Sharni Weir says the protective equipment is necessary for the TECT Rescue Helicopter crew to perform their life-saving work.

“Having a high level of personal protective equipment for all crew is our new normal— with a stand down period of at least 14 days isolation for any of our crew members that gets exposed to the virus, this puts us at huge risk being there for the public, particularly our pilots who we couldn’t fly without.”

With extra equipment needed, and fundraising events cancelled, the TECT Rescue Helicopter is in need of community support now more than ever.

“We are desperately trying to fund the fitting of a specialised flight curtain, which is used to seal off the front cabin from the rear cabin. They cost $3000 per helicopter, which is a huge expense for us but so important to keep our crew safe.

“We are so grateful we have the three-year funding commitment from TECT to support our usual operational costs, but for these additional protective equipment purchases, any support we can get from our community would go a long way.

“We appreciate not everyone will be in a position to do so, but if you are able to make a donation, it will make such a difference to ensuring we can keep you, your loved ones and our crew safe during this difficult time,” says Sharni.

TECT Trustee Amanda Sutcliffe says that the TECT Rescue Helicopter is a vital service in our community, one that TECT is proud to support.

“We are so lucky to have the TECT Rescue Helicopter looking out for our safety, particularly during this difficult time where there is increased risk and we are glad we can continue to support the service with our funding.

“Together we can all make an impact to decrease the pressure on their service by staying home, exercising locally, and being careful on the roads when we do need to travel.”

To donate, visit https://www.rescue.org.nz/quick-donate/.

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