Otago Southland Rescue Helicopter Trust

The Otago Southland Rescue Helicopter Trust was formed in 1998 to fund a dedicated intensive care rescue helicopter service for the greater Otago area. Today, that service covers the entire lower South Island from the Waitaki River and Haast Pass to Stewart Island and surrounding offshore coastlines.

Funding an essential service

Funding an essential service

Within this region, demand for air medical services continues to grow, with operator Helicopters Otago Ltd (HeliOtago) making more than 1,000 rescue flights a year from its base on the Taieri. It now also operates hundreds of flights each year out of Queenstown, with additional support from the Lakes District Air Rescue Trust. Working with Southern Lakes Helicopters, HeliOtago also covers remotest Fiordland and Te Anau.

The rescue helicopter service is partially government funded (from the National Ambulance Sector Office, NASO, to Helicopter Emergency Medical Services New Zealand Ltd (HEMS), from which HeliOtago receives partial funding to deliver the rescue helicopter service in the lower South Island).

The Otago Southland Rescue Helicopter Trust raises funds from the community to help support operating costs beyond those met by government agency funding. In addition, the Trust contributes to medical and flight equipment with enhancements enabling rescues in conditions that would otherwise be preventative. 

From the initial gift of a rooftop helipad at Dunedin Hospital to specialised medical equipment on board the helicopters - such as defibrillators, an automated CPR machine, stretcher bridges, and trauma and resuscitation kits - the Trust makes practical contributions that assist to save lives. 

Strong community support

Strong community support

The Otago Southland Rescue Helicopter Trust enjoys strong support from the community. People appreciate that the unique geography and remoteness of our region are part of what makes the south special, but also challenging. Serving this region with a professional rescue service means helicopters on standby 24/7 and pilots with crucial local knowledge to meet those challenges. Add one intensive care paramedic with one paramedic minimum for each mission crew - and we have a rescue helicopter service as unique and special as the region it serves.

The Trust relies on donations, sponsorships and bequests to fund this service.

Every dollar raised in the region stays in the region. The Trust is structured to keep administrative costs to a minimum so almost all funds received are made available to support the rescue helicopter service.

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Trust Administration

Vivienne Seaton

Vivienne Seaton

Secretary / Manager

Vivienne works part-time for the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust, liaising with donors and fundraising groups and supporting sponsors. To contact Vivienne to share your story or enequire about supporting the Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust, please email secretary@otagorescue.co.nz or phone 021 152 2809.

Annual reports

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