New Zealand's Most Trusted Charity

Posted by Website Admin on July 06, 2018


On 30th May I attended the Readers Digest Most Trusted Brands Awards 2018 and very proudly accepted the award for Most Trusted Charity on behalf of Canterbury & West Coast Air Rescue Trust, Life Flight Trust, Philips Search & Rescue Trust and the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.  The four organisations who combine to provide the service which is known so well throughout New Zealand as the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

To be recognised as New Zealand’s Most Trusted Charity means a great deal to all of our staff, our crew, our sponsors, and everyone who donates to keep our helicopters in the air 24/7/365.

Trust is fundamental to everything we do.

The operation of rescue helicopters relies on trust between pilots, paramedics and doctors as they respond to emergency calls; trust between the patient, their families and our clinical team so that we can provide the best possible care; and ultimately the trust of the public that we will be there when they need us, because New Zealanders have come to rely upon us in their moments of greatest need.

Each year our helicopters provide rescue services to thousands of New Zealanders who for one reason or another have found themselves in a moment of crisis.  Whether they are lost or injured at sea or in the bush, if they have been involved in a motor vehicle accident, or are experiencing a life threatening medical event, quite often the rescue helicopter is the lifeline that for a moment in time is the difference between life and death.

To be New Zealand’s Most Trusted Charity also means that you trust us to be the custodians of the millions of dollars raised every year from public donations.  You trust that we will use the money wisely, that we will not be wasteful, you trust that your dollar goes to helping someone in need.

Rescue helicopters may appear to be simple but in fact are enormously complex.  To provide our service requires a unique combination of aviation and clinical skills. 

On one hand they are expensive but on the other hand, when it is your life on the line they are priceless.

It is wonderful to know that we are trusted because we too place a great deal of trust in Kiwis from all walks of life to support us with their kind donations. 

We can only be there when we are needed thanks to the huge generosity of the New Zealand public, alongside support from Westpac NZ, and a number of sponsors who together provide more than half of the funding required to operate our services.

Westpac NZ began sponsoring rescue helicopters more than 35 years ago and over time became a sponsor for the four organisations recognised by this award. 

Their support hasn’t just come by way of a cheque, but also from the whole Westpac team who have so generously given of their time over the years.

We know how proud they are of their relationship with rescue helicopters, and we know how proud the rescue helicopters are to have developed a sponsor relationship which is enduring, dependable, and one of mutual trust.

Westpac have long seen the tremendous value that rescue helicopters provide to their communities, and if you speak to any Westpac team member - from a teller to their Chief Executive - support of the rescue helicopters is their key social investment in NZ.

With that said, I take this opportunity to acknowledge the support we have received over many, many years from Westpac NZ, and we look forward to your continued support in the future. 

We all take very seriously our responsibility to provide exceptional service as part of New Zealand’s Emergency Response framework, and to be recognised with this award gives us the sense of satisfaction and confidence that we are providing the service that the NZ public expects from us.

We are enormously proud to receive this award.

Thank you Readers Digest, thank you Westpac, and thank you to the New Zealand public.

2017 ARHT Annual Report

Posted by Website Admin on November 14, 2017

Message  from the CEO
I am delighted to present to you our 2017 Annual Report. 

The past 12 months have presented us with some challenges which we will continue to address over the coming year but, having been in the business for 47 years, we know that the only constant is change and, in fact, we have learned to not only embrace it, but to lead it! 

We are extremely proud of the work we do and the service we provide to our communities, and we continuously strive to improve in every aspect of our business. The rescue helicopter service business is a complex one, particularly as we live in the charitable space relying on the public to ensure the sustainability and survival of our 
service.  This is not something we take for granted and I stress every day the need for us to be good custodians of those precious donations.  We are always mindful of the delicate balancing act of wanting to be the best and provide a world class rescue helicopter service and the cost involved in doing so, with the very real need to ensure every dollar is spent is with thought and care. 

Over the years ARHT has shifted focus from being a transport mechanism, being the quickest option to get someone to hospital, to being a truly patient focused service. This year we celebrated five years of our HEMS programme. Our Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) is unique in New Zealand where, through our close relationship with the Auckland District Health Board, we have Emergency Specialist Doctors working alongside our crew to provide the very best medical care possible to our patients. Over the past five years, this doctor/paramedic model has proved its worth to countless patients who have received the specialist care and attention this approach provides.  However HEMS comes at a significant financial cost.  We realised that to truly commit to this model we needed to move away from relying on goodwill and best endeavours and we set our aspirations on guaranteeing this service to our community.  Our knight in shining armour came in the form of the Li Ka Shing Foundation who showed their commitment and support by donating $1million dollars to the Trust to fund our HEMS programme for the next three years.  This is the single biggest donation that the Trust has ever received. We are extremely grateful for this generosity. 

We know how important the support of our community is.  We are humbled by the ongoing support and generosity of all of our sponsors and supporters, including Westpac New Zealand, our naming rights sponsor. 

Keeping our choppers available to you 24/7/365 is a team effort and by working together we can ensure that ARHT continues to provide “The Best Care By Air” every day. Finally, I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the staff of ARHT.  They are a wonderful bunch of people and I am proud to be a part of their team.


To download or read a copy of the full report, CLICK HERE

A Priceless Gift

Posted by Website Admin on June 29, 2017


Blood. It’s a priceless gift, a much-needed lifeline.

The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust (ARHT) prides itself on being an innovative, patient focused rescue service, so when our Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) Doctors and the New Zealand Blood Service (NZBS) began discussing the possibility of working together, the critical difference blood can make for patients was top of mind.

Pre-hospital transfusions have been standard practice in a number of countries around the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. Learnings from these nations were considered as ARHT and NZBS began discussing how this would work in an Auckland setting.

Key benefits were noted, particularly strengthening the ‘chain of survival’ for critically injured patients. In addition, carrying O-Negative whole blood was identified as advantageous as it can be given to anyone.

Discussions also addressed challenges, for example blood must stay at a constant temperature of four degrees for greater than 72 hours. Furthermore, O-Negative whole blood must be available to be exchanged every two to three days if the current unit is not used, and waste of this blood type must be minimal as only nine percent of the population is O-Negative.

Working through those benefits and challenges, a unique strategic partnership with NZBS and ARHT has developed. Today ARHT carries two units of whole blood – this means life-saving blood transfusions can be carried out at the scene of an accident or in the air en-route to hospital. 

As the ‘chain of survival’ extends into the hospital ARHT clinical teams worked with the Auckland District Health Board to develop what is known as ‘Trauma Code Crimson’.  This means that with a critically ill patient on board our crew can call ahead to the hospital a “Code Crimson” which prompts the hospital staff to immediately mobilise a team of trauma specialists to receive the patient, including operating theatre, anaesthetists etc.

Last year five blood transfusions were performed under this programme, making a real difference for those critically injured patients.

This unique relationship between ARHT, ADHB and NZBS is critical to New Zealand communities – working together, it enables more lives to be saved.


Being a Blood Donor

Blood donors must meet the eligibility criteria (see and can book an appointment online or by calling 0800 GIVE BLOOD (0800 448 325).

The need for donors is constant – NZBS must collect around 3,000 donations every week nationally and are always working to maintain and grow the register of donors to make this possible.