COMMUNITY members were wowed when the new $18 million Westpac Rescue Helicopter landed at Westport Park on October 18.
An AgustaWestland AW139 worth $16 million and complete with a $2 million medical fit out, the new helicopter was showcased between 9 and 11am.
The aircrafts, also based in Lismore, Tamworth and Newcastle, cover the areas from the Central Coast, Queensland boarder and New England North West.
A host of community leaders, members and school students attended to listen to a special trainer and pilot go over the machine, what they use it for and how it works.
The event comes in the wake of five major incidents in the recent school holidays that required the use of the service.
Community Liason Officer for the MNC for Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Richard McGovern, said the helicopter burnt over $200,000 worth of fundraising in that time.
Westpac community liaison officer Barry Walton said it was a great opportunity to show off the new aircraft.
“To show the capabilities of the helicopter, to answer any questions and to talk about the scenarios with the community is very important,” he said.
“There’s a lot of training that goes into being able to operate this machine. Our pilots and crew have been to flight simulators in Italy and also in Sydney.”
The main difference is the size, speed and the capability to have a doctor and paramedic on board on every flight.
Michael Legge is the operations trainer for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. His primary role is to train all medical staff in the northern region in the aviation aspect.
Mr Legge said it was fantastic to showcase the community’s own helicopter.
“To be able to show off your toy is what gives you that sense of satisfaction,” he said. “Knowing what you provide to the community, and to be able to see those kids smiley faces really makes it worth while.”
He has been in his role for 10 and a half years and said old aircraft use to have a single engine and were smaller. The new aircraft features two engines, among many other new features.
“It’s basically like upgrading your car model. When you upgrade a lot of things start to modernise,” he said.
“The different cockpits, the different buttons, the engine … those differences factor in and help to get to an emergency scene (faster).”