The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service is celebrating 50 years of service since its first day of operations on 29 September 1973.
In partnership with Surf Life Saving Australia, Westpac (then Bank of New South Wales) has been proudly supporting the Service since it began, making it one of the longest community partnerships in Australia.
Latest data from helicopter operations reveals that over the past five decades, the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service has performed more than 100,000 missions. It is a timely reminder to all Australians to stay safe along the coast and in the great outdoors as we head into summer.
Westpac Group Chief Executive, Peter Kingsaid: “Our Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service partnership with Surf Life Saving Australia is deeply embedded into our own history, and we have enormous pride in the critical support the Service provides to the community.
“For 50 years, the crew and personnel of the Service have been there through some of the most significant moments that the country has faced – from the Granville train disaster, the Thredbo landslide to the Port Arthur tragedy – and we look forward to continuing to work with the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Services around Australia to keep us safe from above.”
Surf Life Saving Australia President, John Baker ESM said: “In 1973, Surf Life Saving, with one Bell 47 helicopter and the support of Westpac, known then as Bank of New South Wales, started Australia’s first integrated civilian helicopter rescue service, which has since gone on to become the longest serving civilian based rescue helicopter service in the world.
“There are now 15 Westpac rescue helicopters and one Offshore Rescue Boat operating from 13 bases around Australia, each delivering essential lifesaving and emergency services to the Australian community.
“Without the support of Westpac, and the various state governments and community, we would not be able to deliver this vital community service, we are proud to say that no one has ever paid to be rescued.
“We are deeply appreciative of this longstanding partnership with Westpac in support of our Helicopter Services around the country and are excited to showcase and celebrate, this incredible 50-year milestone”, John said.
The Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service has never been more important, as new Surf Life Saving Australia data reveals drowning deaths continue to happen in unacceptable numbers, with on average 121 coastal drowning deaths occurring each year, and males accounting for 87%.
To help curb these sobering statistics, Westpac and Surf Life Saving Australia will continue to land Westpac rescue helicopters at school and community events around Australia to help educate the community about water safety.
Westpac recently committed to supporting the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service for a further five years, taking the partnership past 50 years.
To find out more about the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service, or to donate to local Services, visit: Westpac.com.au/rescuehelicopters