NZ Students Help Keep Rescue Helicopters Flying
The air was filled with the sound of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter as it descended onto the school field. For many seriously injured patients, this sound comes as a beacon of hope. However, this June day in 2014 it was only landing to collect the outstanding result of the fundraising efforts of the 184 students at Westmount School, Waikato Campus in the middle of the North Island of New Zealand. The cheering students watched as the helicopter that had completed 363 rescue missions last year in the Waikato-King Country region landed.
The Westpac Rescue Helicopter organization employs a number of highly-trained pilots and medical crew to carry out precarious missions in some of the most rugged places in New Zealand.
This charity is very thankful for any contribution, great or small. Having never received a donation over $10,000 from a similar charity to the Westmount School, you can imagine the look of disbelief on the pilot and crew’s faces as the total amount of $17, 681.98 was announced! As a reward for the hours of organising that went into the fundraising, the Prefect Team all enjoyed a ride in the helicopter, accompanied by the year 4 student who had raised the most money.
This was not the only helicopter benefitting from Westmount fundraising this year. The students from Westmount Kiapara, north of Auckland, also supported their region’s rescue helicopter, which operates under the Northland Emergency Services Trust (NEST).
Students spent months doing fundraising activities. Flyers were dropped in the area, publicizing the cause and students called every house in their community, in an attempt to reach their goal of $25 000. The goal was exceeded, and on the 20th of August 2014, student leaders presented a cheque to the exceptional amount of $28 060 to the NEST representatives in a ceremony at the school. During the ceremony, the NEST personnel told the school that this money would pay for 7-8 hours of rescue operation flying for the NEST helicopter.
The student leaders were given the experience of a simulated helicopter flight at the helicopter base in Whangerei as a reward for their efforts, and two groups from the school enjoyed 7-minute rides in the real rescue helicopter.
From penetrating dense native bush rescuing an injured mountaineer to lowering a Paramedic onto a boat sinking in 5 metre waves off the West Coast, the rescue helicopter service is a very worthy cause for donation in New Zealand. Westmount students have enjoyed the chance to show their appreciation this year.