Helicopter proves a lifesaver

SUNSHINE brings out the boating, bushwalking and outdoor enthusiast in all of us. 

So it's no surprise that warmer weather also brings out the Tasmania Police Westpac Rescue Helicopter more than usual.

This January saw the helicopter carry out 26 missions for a total of 50 hours flying time, according to Inspector Lee Renshaw, of marine and rescue services.

The aircraft is operated by Rotorlift which has a $19.5 million five-year contract  with the force.

At all times it is manned by police and an Ambulance Tasmania paramedic.  

Inspector Renshaw named misadventure, injury or illness as the main reasons for rescues. 

``There is no one area that is more hazardous than any other,'' he said. 

`` A study of missions undertaken indicates that problems can occur within close proximity to urban areas  as much as they can in isolated areas.''

At the weekend the helicopter was in action after a boat carrying a child capsized off Bruny Island. A six-year-old child was momentarily washed away from his father and a male relative, who managed to rescue the youngster. 

The three were winched to safety after making it to shore at Coal Point. 

Inspector Renshaw highlighted bushwalking in remote areas as the activity most likely to end up in a rescue. 

``Whilst some occur due to people becoming lost or disoriented the majority are a result of illness or injury,'' he said. 

``On occasions members of the public do not study the likely terrain they will encounter and do not have an adequate understanding of prevailing weather conditions.''

Inspector Renshaw said it was essential that bushwalkers have the ability to contact help if required prompting the need for PLBs, EPIRBs or satellite phones.

When engaging in bushwalking activity people should be properly equipped and register their walk and indicate start and finish times.

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