Northern Region SLSA Helicopter Rescue Service

The Northern Region SLSA Helicopter Rescue Service (NRHRS) ensures citizens of northern NSW have access to free helirescue.

About the Northern Region SLSA Helicopter Rescue Service Pty Ltd (NRHRS)

The Northern Region SLSA Helicopter Rescue Service Pty Ltd (NRHRS) is a not-for-profit organisation operating from Lismore in New South Wales. This community organisation ensures that the citizens, residents and visitors of northern NSW all have access to free aero medical helirescue services wherever and whenever they need it.

For more than 30 years, this organisation has provided timely aero medical rescue for all the inhabitants of the region and nearby areas. For these past three decades, the responders of NRHRS have flown more than 7,200 life-saving trips.

Presently, the rescue helicopter service flies an average of six to seven mission in a single week. There are also on-duty crew and staff members that are readily available at the Lismore Base. These responders are on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The NRHRS acts as an integral part of the Northern Region Emergency Response system. The NRHRS also has a close working relationship with all of the other emergency services in the region, including the Ambulance Service of NSW and the NSW Department of Health.

The members of NRHRS stand by their mission statement, which is “To deliver emergency medical and rescue helicopter services 24 hours per day, every day of the year, free of charge, whenever life is threatened.”

History of NRHRS

The Northern Region SLSA Helicopter Rescue Service Pty Ltd was officially launched in December 1982, after years of campaigning for a rescue helicopter service in the areas of NSW. When the service began in Ballina SLSC, it was provided a Hillier UH-12E. The NRHRS was the fifth SLSA service to be established in Australia during that time.

In 1983 – the following year – the NRHRS permanently relocated to Lismore, with a Bell 206B Jetranger on lease.

Fast forward to 2008, the Ambulance Service of NSW commenced a trial to station paramedics on the Lismore Helicopter Base on regular work hours. The NSW Department of Health also assisted in creating an Australasian College for Emergency Medicine residency at the Base that same year.

Three decades since it began in the 1980s, the NRHRS has improved in the aspects of technology, personnel and operations. Now, the Base has two rescue helicopters and on-call responders ready at any minute of the day. Due to the strong financial support of the members of the community, the NRHRS continues to deliver fast and efficient aero medical services to people who need it most.

Fun Facts About the NRHRS

  • The NRHRS does not charge patients a single dollar for the aero medical service.
  • There are presently two Airbus Dauphin AS365 N2 helicopters that are found in the Lismore base. The helicopters are maintained by an expert team of engineers. The helicopters are twin engine, fully equipped Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) weighing over 4 tonnes with a cruising speed of 250 km/h and a top speed of 280km/h.
  • The NRHRS covers approximately 80,000 sq. km of land and sea surface area. The area begins from the Queensland border south to Nambucca/Macksville, west to include Glen Innes and Tenterfield, and east beyond the coastline.
  • The NRHRS averages seven missions every week. The NRHRS is predominantly tasked by the Ambulance Service of NSW via its Aeromedical Coordination Centre located in Sydney. The NRHRS also works alongside the NSW Police and the Australia Search & Rescue.
  • The NRHRS runs three main types of missions:
    • Primary – this type of mission responds to incidents, collisions, and emergencies
    • Secondary – this type of mission involves inter-hospital transfers
    • Search and Rescue – this mission is often carried out alongside the Australia Search & Rescue.
  • Another name of the NRHRS is the ‘Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter’. This name is drawn from the Westpac Banking Corporation. The corporation is the naming right sponsor, having donated generous amounts for the cause. Westpac does not own the service in any way, however. The NRHRS is affiliated with other Westpac Helicopter operations in Australia as peers only.
  • The annual operating budget for the service amounts to over $8 million. Each year, the NRHRS relies on the support of individuals, communities and business sectors to raise funds of over $5 million through donations, charity raffles and other events. The remaining funds needed by the NRHRS are provided by the NSW Department of Health.
  • All of the funds raised for the NRHRS go directly towards ensuring that the rescue helicopters and personnel are available to respond to medical emergencies throughout the region.

NRHRS Lotteries and Fundraising

The NRHRS is financially supported by the NSW Department of Health and by individuals, communities and business sectors as well. Through generous donations, charity raffles and other fundraising activities, the NRHRS has been able to save over 6,500 lives across the region.

NRHRS lottery raffles offer prizes including boat, trailer and motor packages, and fuel and grocery vouchers.

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