Mission Report 2019
The year ended 31 Dec 2019 saw the Canterbury and West Coast crews respond to 807 missions in total.
Mission statistics for the year were consistent with recent yearly trends; the majority of callouts for the Canterbury Crew were responding to accidents (45%), medical events (34%) and inter-hospital transfers (21%) making up the remaining 55% of Canterbury missions. The Christchurch based crews attended to a total of 545 missions in 2019.
The majority of callouts for the West Coast service were inter-hospital transfers (45%), followed by accidents (32%) and medical events (23%). The Greymouth based crews responded to a total of 257 callouts in 2019.
November dethroned August as the the busiest month of the year in 2019 for both crews.
The holiday period in December saw rescue crews attending multiple missions for patients injured in leisure activity related accidents. Activities including horse-riding, tramping, cycling and water sports. There were also 8 motor vehicle accidents across Canterbury attended by the rescue helicopter crews.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter Senior Rescue Pilot and Operations Manager, Stuart Farquhar was interviewed in late 2019 about his role on the Canterbury Rescue Helicopter Crew. In his 20 years on the job, Stuart Farquhar has amassed vast knowledge and, and has been involved in countless life saving missions. Sadly, he’s also witnessed his share of sad outcomes over the years in a vast area that includes a lot of challenging terrain and conditions for helicopter pilots.
Stu says, “We’ve had our fair share of things go down in this part of the woods in recent years. We’ve had the Pike River Mine, the earthquakes both in Christchurch and Kaikoura, as well as a few aircraft tragedies.” Speaking on the conditions in the South Island, Farquar commented that some missions can be trickier to pilot than others, “We cover the top two thirds (of the South Island). The combination of high altitude and wind can be a tricky situation. We do a lot of training to try and make it as safe as we possibly can for ourselves, for our crew and for our patients.”
2019 was a busy year for both the Canterbury and West Coast Air Rescue operations. In 2020 mission numbers have continued to increase with 34% more mission flown in January and February than the same period last year. More info about 2020 missions statistics can be found here