The much anticipated green light was given three weeks ago and the first sod has now been turned on the site that will be the home of the upgraded Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service.
The Member for Lismore, The Hon. Thomas George was joined by the Chairman of the Northern Region Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service, Mr Warren Tozer OAM, Mr Richard Jones, General Manager of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, Mr Kris Beavis, General Manager of the Northern Region Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter Service, Lismore Mayor, Jenny Dowell, along with volunteers and staff to witness the milestone at the site in the Lismore Airport precinct on Krauss Avenue.
The purpose built base will house the new state of the art AW139 aircraft, which will be stationed at each of the seven NSW Ambulance helicopter bases in NSW. The new Northern NSW sector’s bases will be located at Lismore Airport, Belmont Airport (Newcastle) and Tamworth Airport. Each base will have accommodation for the pilots, aircrew, doctors and paramedics who will form the retrieval team on each mission.
Mr Tozer commented “Today is a wonderful tribute to those people who had the vision and determination to establish a rescue helicopter service in northern NSW nearly 35 years ago.”
Sentiments shared by his General Manager, Kris Beavis “It is the continued and tireless support of our regions’ communities that have seen both services mature into world class operations and because of that, we have been able to save thousands of lives”
The agreement reached between the two services, which saw the Northern Region supporting the tender bid of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service was vital to seeing them edge out private, international and national competition in the tender process.
“Our backgrounds, our cultures and our commitments to our communities made it a logical agreement, and one under which we could move forward” Mr Richard Jones, General Manager of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service said.
Mr George welcomed the imminent construction. “I am delighted to stand here today representing the NSW Government with representatives from each of these vital community services knowing that the people of Northern NSW will continue to be provided with the best possible aeromedical service.
In conjunction with the soon to be opened helipad at the newly expanded Lismore Base Hospital, this brings the quality of critical care in our region to a whole new level”
The construction, expected to be completed by early 2017, is being undertaken by local Lismore operator, Greg Clark Building.
“We are proud to be working on such an important project for our community and look forward to seeing the day when the new aircraft is first rolled in to the hangar” Mr Clark said.