Why We Leap

The Community’s Own Rescue Helicopter

No one has ever had to pay to be assisted by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service. That is because people in our community, along with the NSW Government, through NSW Health and NSW Ambulance, provide the funds to ensure the rescue helicopters are there when, and where, they are needed.

AW139 fleet
  • Four AW139’s cover 1.5m people throughout Northern New South Wales, from the Hawkesbury to the Queensland border, making it one of the leading aeromedical services in Australia.
  • The Rescue Helicopters operate from three bases at Belmont Airport, Lismore Airport and Tamworth Airport. Deep maintenance, engineering and administration are at Broadmeadow (Newcastle)
  • The AW139’s cost $1,000 per hour in fuel, $1,000 per hour to run the engine, $1,500 for the airframe and for $500 avionics, that’s a total of $4,000 per hour.
  • The AW139 helicopters are bigger aircraft capable of flying for longer, faster periods, covering great distances.

The service is on call 24 hours, seven days a week.

Approaching 2,000 missions each year.  

These include:

  • Primary – attend accident site, treat and transfer patients to hospital
  • Secondary – transfer patients between hospitals for specialist treatment
  • Search and rescue – help to locate missing people, rescue and return to safety  


  • On board each helicopter is a crew of highly trained and skilled professionals.
  • The crew includes pilots, doctors, paramedics, nurses and rescue crew members depending on the needs of each patient.
  • Crews are supported by the work of engineering teams which include experienced planners and licensed aircraft maintenance engineers. Other important Service people are marketing and administration teams.


  • It costs about $40 million a year to keep the helicopters and crews ready to respond when needed.
  • About $12 million of the cost is raised through sponsorships, Volunteer, Support Group activities, events and partnerships with our community.
  • The remainder is funded through contracts with NSW Health and NSW Ambulance.

Rescue Story

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