Mayors urge Ministry of Health action on rescue helicopters

  • 24/04/2018

Poor communication is being blamed for the handling of rescue helicopters in the central North Island.

The Ministry of Health is looking to cut rescue helicopter bases, including Taupō and Rotorua, as part of a review of services. It's proposing a nationally integrated and consistent service across the country.

Mayors met with Health Minister David Clark on Monday over the future of the chopper rescue services. They were told operators will now be able to tender for services.

Ruapehu Mayor Don Cameron believes it is critical an answer to rescue helicopter funding is found, and fast.

"People with hypothermia or just minor breaks - because we get there so quickly… we haven't had anyone die," he says.

"We will have someone die if we have to wait another half-hour."

As well as Taupō and Rotorua, Whitianga and Te Anau are among the services at risk of being axed. More than 18,000 people have signed a petition to save the helicopter.

The Ministry of Health says no decision has been made yet, and no community will be left without a service.

Mr Cameron says the Government needs to be transparent.

"We'll be talking to LandSAR - or Search and Rescue, Police, because they were actually left out of this locally," he says.