CHOPPER FUNDS: Westpac Surf Life Saver Rescue Helicopter CEO Stephen Leahy, NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell, Minister for Police Emergency Services Michael Gallacher and Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Phil Vanny.
NSW PREMIER Barry O’Farrell and Minister for Police and Emergency Services Michael Gallacher on Monday announced $1.5million in funding for Surf Life Saving NSW to assist the Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter.
“This funding will ensure this vital search and rescue helicopter service continues to provide a 24/7 service in the Greater Sydney Region and a second service on the NSW south coast, operating daytime, year round” Mr O’Farrell said.
Police and Emergency Services Minister, Michael Gallacher said the search and rescue service had saved countless lives in almost 40 years of operation.
“This search and rescue service has been integral in major operations in our history including the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, the Waterfall train disaster and the Thredbo landslide in 1997,” Mr Gallacher said.
“The helicopter also played an important role during the floods in Moree, the south coast and Wagga Wagga earlier this year,” he said.
In the Narooma area, the helicopter has conducted numerous searches for missing persons at sea, as well as routine surf patrols.
Westpac Life Saver CEO Stephen Leahy welcomed the funding announcement.
“We are thrilled with today’s announcement,” Mr Leahy said.
“This allows us to provide dedicated search and rescue helicopters to the communities of the Central Coast, Sydney, right down the Victorian border and beyond.
“We continue to work closely with our colleagues at Surf Life Saving NSW, the NSW Police Force, the NSW State Emergency Service, Rural Fire Service and Australian Search and Rescue in providing a rapid, responsive rescue service.
“Just as importantly, we will be working closely with Surf Life Saving NSW to provide regular helicopter patrols along the coastline during the warmer months and this will assist their important work in reducing drownings.”
The announcement was made at the helicopter service’s Cape Banks base by Mr O’Farrell and Mr Gallacher and they were joined by the Minister for Sport and Recreation Graham Annesley, the Member for Coogee Bruce Notley-Smith, the Member for Bega Andrew Constance and the Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Phil Vanny.