The initial cost to train a new air rescue crew member is $30,000 while the cost to re-train them every year is an additional $25,000, to keep them certified to the National Air Rescue/Air Ambulance standards required of the service.
Training programmes are certified by independent observers to ensure the very highest standards are met. Winch operators are trained by one of Australasia’s most experienced winchmen and are re-trained every three months to ensure top capability at all times.
Specialised training programmes are also in place for the Water Rescue Team, who are experienced in surf lifesaving, swift and open water retrieval. Teams are also trained in alpine survival, helicopter underwater escape, mountain and bush survival, winch operations, long-line winch operations, bomb disposal operations, Armed Offenders Squad and reconnaissance activities - undertaking extensive regular training programmes throughout the year.
CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) carry out regular audits of air rescue operators to ensure that a high level of training is being carried out - more so today with the introduction of specialised equipment such as Night Vision.
Below: This video shows paramedics and winch crews on the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, practicing long-line winch transfers between the helicopter and the Sumner Life boat, off Scarborough, Christchurch.