Lismore Rescue Helicopter Recognises 10,000th Mission

Written by: WRHS, 27 Apr 2020

Lismore Rescue Helicopter Recognises 10,000th Mission


The Lismore based Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter has recently surpassed a significant milestone by flying its 10,000th mission.

“The mission was a tasking to perform a patient transfer between two hospitals in our region. The mission was no different to any other to the extent that our first priority was to ensure the patient and medical team were transported as safely and efficiently as possible”, said Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter CEO Richard Jones OAM.

The region’s first Westpac Rescue Helicopter was officially launched in Ballina December 1982 thanks to the vision of local individuals and organisations such as Elton Cummings, Graham Smith, John Bradfield and Surf Life Saving Far North Coast. It is with great thanks to a proud and passionate community it has continually evolved and improved for 38 years.

In partnership with NSW Ambulance, the local service now completes on average of over 400 missions each year from Lismore airport. It operates 24-7 with a NSW Ambulance Critical Care Paramedic and NSW Health Doctor providing advanced medical care on every mission. Along with Tamworth and Belmont, the Lismore base is one of three operations providing an integrated helicopter emergency medical service throughout the Northern half of NSW and flying on average over 1,500 missions per year. These include search and rescue, pre-hospital emergencies and inter-hospital transfers.

Jones credits the medical component of today’s Service as one of the most significant developments in 38 years.

“The diagnostic and medical equipment inside the helicopter along with the incredible Paramedics and Doctors means the care provided on scene is world class. Ultimately that’s helping to save lives,” he said.

“Right from the start, communities of the Far North Coast, New England and Mid North Coast have passionately supported the need for a rescue helicopter. This milestone is a chance to acknowledge everyone, including former figure heads of Fundraising Committees and Boards: Wal Gillam, Bruce Duncan, Michael Byrne, Harold Fredricks and Warren Tozer, CEO’s Perry Wells and Kris Beavis, Patron of the Service Mr Ken Jolley, former Board  and Fund Raising Committee members, former volunteers including Mary & Emily Betteridge along with all former staff who have been associated with this regions helicopter services throughout the past 38 years,” Jones said.

“I can’t speak highly enough of our staff, volunteers, sponsors and donors, but the association reaches further than some might think when you consider the 10,000 patients, their families and friends and all of the frontline Emergency Service personnel who are on scene when our helicopter lands. This includes lifeguards and volunteers in organisations like Surf Life Saving, the VRA, SES and Marine Rescue. Then it’s all of the wonderful hospital medical staff that receive our patients and continue their care” Jones added.

The Service’s Regional Advisory Committee Chairperson, Peter Duncan remarked “…as a grassroots community based organisation it is incredible to think of just how much support has been given by so many to ensure that 10,000 people could be offered aeromedical support when they needed it most.”

“The 10,000th mission is not so much a celebration, but a chance for us as a local charity to extend our appreciation to the many thousands of people who have helped us to continue what was started nearly four decades ago by those with a passion to see more lives saved throughout our community” Duncan said.



CEO of the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, Richard Jones OAM, welcomes the opportunity for individual interviews and comment on all aspects of this Media Release by direct call on Mb. 0419 261 877.