In about 2005, the NSW Government changed the structure of the emergency helicopter service and planned to relocate it from its Coniston base to Sydney.
The Rotary Club of Wollongong, through its then President Phil Buckland, strongly supported by Arthur Rorris of the South Coast Labour Council, mounted a community campaign to prevent the loss of the service to the Illawarra.
The outcome of their campaign was that the service was retained in the Illawarra at the Albion Park (Illawarra Regional) Airport with a heavier and more capable aircraft than previous.
History is about to re-invent itself! To help ease the fiscal situation in NSW, a report has been prepared by some financial consultants who have recommended the removal of this vital emergency service from Wollongong.
The consultants have suggested that the Illawarra and South Coast can be as efficiently serviced from a Sydney base. In fact, it will add 20-30 minutes flying time to the arrival of an emergency helicopter in most parts of the Illawarra. PEOPLE CAN DIE in those 20 minutes.
The retention of the helicopter retrieval service at its current base is critical to the safety and survival of people who may have been seriously injured in an accident and need emergency transfer to hospital.
The Rotary Club of Wollongong, joined by a further 11 Rotary Clubs in the Region, calls on the NSW Government to maintain the status quo and retain this service in the Illawarra.
The Member for Kiama Gareth Ward has initiated a petition to the Government with the aim of having the consultant’s recommendation overturned. To help retain this vital service in the Illawarra, every resident should add their signature to this petition.
Petition forms can be obtained by contacting Wollongong Rotary Club at email@example.com or from Gareth Ward’s office at 125 Terralong Street, Kiama.
Leigh Robinson is president of the Wollongong Rotary Club. Submissions on the review of aeromedical services close today (Thursday).