The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust has successfully administered an air rescue service since 1991.
This has been achieved in partnership with GCH Aviation (the operator since 1996) and the Order of St John, through its paramedics and 111 emergency call service.
Since then, thousands of people throughout Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough have been successfully flown from accident and rescue sites to hospitals throughout the region and further afield.
Each year hundreds of hours are given freely by the Trustees, Volunteers, Sponsors and members of the community in support of the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter. Without this commitment, the service would simply not exist. This support is given because the service is one that people feel passionate about.
A deliberate blend of expertise and practical experience has been sought in establishing the make up of the Trust under the Chairmanship of Robert Williams. The Trustees set policies and procedures and monitor the Trust’s operational and financial performance and its obligations and agreements with sponsors.
The Trust is committed to keeping administrative overheads to a minimum, reserving funds for operational costs wherever possible. There is only one staff member employed by the Trust, with hundreds of hours being given free of charge by the Trustees, volunteers and the business community to support the service.
Chairman – Rob Williams, Chartered Accountant
A Partner of Crowe Horwath Chartered Accountants. Rob is involved in providing advice on the acquisition/disposal of large commercial properties and works with major clients in the fishing and retailing industry. As well as his involvement with the Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust he is Treasurer of Nelson Deerstalkers, Treasurer of the Nelson Club, past Treasurer of Tasman Bay Cruising Club and Nelson Underwater Club. His interests include hunting, fishing, diving and skiing.
Trustee – Johnson Scutt, Winemaker
A qualified winemaker with extensive international vintage experience. For the past 10 years he’s been working for Winery Exchange Inc, a large United States alcohol beverage company based in San Francisco. Initially situated in Barcelona, Spain Johnson and his family returned to Nelson in 2009 where his responsibilities include purchasing, winemaking and quality control for the Southern Hemisphere. A Nelson College old boy and boarder in Fell House he was educated at Charles Sturt university in Australia graduating with a BSC in Winescience.
Trustee – Victoria Hall, Lawyer
Victoria is a lawyer with Hall Law, a law firm based in Nelson. Victoria was born and raised in Nelson, and after completing law and commerce degrees at Otago University and practising in Blenheim and London, she returned to Nelson to enjoy all that the region has to offer. She has a broad range of experience as a lawyer, and has previously held the position of Trustee with another local charitable trust. Victoria has two small children and currently balances her work commitments with those of spending time with her children.
Trustee – Geoff Devine, Director
Geoff has been involved in the Fitness Industry for over 25 years both in NZ and overseas. After finishing his study at Otago University and travelling overseas, Geoff decided to settle back in Nelson with his wife Louise and open Devine Fitness in 2001. After selling Devine Fitness in 2010 he's set up outdoor fitness parks around New Zealand as well as a Paddle Board Company and has helped out a number of community gyms around the country. Geoff has two daughters and is involved in Nelson Golf, mountain biking and learning to surf.
General Manager – Paula Muddle
With strong governance and a background in market research, marketing, design and sponsorship, Paula is employed by the Trust to ensure existing and new sponsors receive a high and favourable profile in the community and to obtain additional sponsorship and support for the Trust.
Our service receives no direct Government funding. The Trust's fundamental role since 1991 has been to secure and administer the enormous and constant amount of funding that is required to not only keep a viable rescue helicopter service fully operational but to ensure that it meets or exceeds world-class standards of operational performance and safety.
The fact that those standards are constantly being redefined to keep pace with the changing environment and technology, means an increasing demand on training resources and equipment.
Our current funding environment means that 40% of operational costs are met by ACC, Police SAR and District Health Board payments. That leaves an enormous shortfall of 60% which can only be met by public donations and business sponsorship support.
The Nelson Marlborough Rescue Helicopter Trust's crew consists of two pilots, two winch operators and a pool of St John Intensive Care Paramedics.
Monthly operation meetings are held with all crew to review training, equipment and any mission concerns. These programs are certified by independent observers to ensure the very high standards are met.
The winch operators are trained by one of Australasia's most experienced winch men with recurrence training every three months to ensure top capability at all times.
Specialised training programs are in place for the volunteer Water Rescue Team, who are experienced in surf lifesaving, swift and open water retrieval, alpine survival, winch operation and reconnaissance activities.
They are required to undertake regular training programs throughout the year. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) regularly audit operators to see that a reasonable level of training is being carried out.