Rescue chopper clocks 5,000 missions

THE MONARO region's local rescue helicopter service is fast approaching a milestone of 5,000 missions in its 15th year of operation. Snowy Hydro SouthCare expects to perform its 5,000th mission before the end of January.

The service reached its 4,000th mission as recently as October 2010, when it transferred a Cooma resident to The Canberra Hospital after he sustained injuries from a motor vehicle accident on the Monaro Highway.

Since 1998 the Aero-Medical Rescue Helicopter has been serving the ACT and surrounding region, extending as far south as the Snowy Mountains and the Victorian border, north to Orange, and up the NSW East Coast.

The helicopter responds to an average of two missions per day, and in 2011-2012 performed 450 missions - an increase of 20 per cent on the previous year.

Snowy Hydro SouthCare CEO, Owen Finegan said that increasing mission statistics and costs reinforceed the need for community support.

"When you hear or see the helicopter flying overhead, I urge you to stop and consider the important role the service plays in your community," he said.

In 2011-2012 the majority of missions performed were hospital transfers from regional centres to The Canberra Hospital, or to specialised hospitals in Sydney. The typical patient was a male, over 45 years residing at the NSW South Coast with injuries from an accident.

Snowy Hydro SouthCare will be marking 5000 missions in early March at a cocktail function to the launch Snowy Hydro SouthCare Awareness Month.

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