Bingara community thanked at MPS Helipad opening

January 30, 2012

The Chief Executive of Hunter New England Health, Michael DiRienzo, paid tribute to contribution of the local community and MPS staff who raised $18,000  toward the new Bingara MPS Helipad, at the opening of the facility last Wednesday week.

Bingara Helipad grand opening Senator John Williams, Bingara MPS Health Service Manager, Sue Mack, Westpac rescue Helicopter pilot, Dave Davies, and Chief Executive of Hunter New England Health, Michael Dirienzo.

“This achievement is even more impressive considering the small size of the community, and examplifies the willingness of the Bingara community to support Bingara MPS and lend a hand when needed,” Mr. DiRienzo said.He said there were many groups and individuals who contributed to the helipad both financially and in kind.

“In particular I would like to thank Essential Energy for donating more than $50,000 worth of work in relocating power lines and Gwydir Shire Council whose staff really got behindat MPS Helipad opening the cause.

“Special mention must also go to the staff of Bingara MPS for their ongoing support, in particular the fundraising committee who organised many fundraising activities to contribute to the Helipad.

“This helipad will allow our most critically ill patients to be transferred more quickly to regional hospitals for specialist care and will greatly assist our staff in the life saving work they do,” Mr. DiRienzo said.

Groups involved in the planning and construction of the helipad and acknowledged by Mr. DiRienzo included the Bingara MPS management and staff, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, the Bingara Local Health Advisory Committee, the Medical Retrieval Unit and NSW Health’s Aviation consultant Safety Accredited Auditor.

Other groups acknowledged by MPS Health Services Manager, Sue Mack, were the Bingara Lions Club and the United Hospitals Auxiliary. Mrs. Mack also paid tribute to the work done by staff members Tiffany Galvin and Susie Bilsborough, and LHAC committee member, Noelene Ozols, and presented each of them with flowers.

Senator John Williams also addressed the gathering, praising Bingara’s ability to work together to achieve much more than larger towns seem to be able to.  He said it is impossible for small centres like Bingara to have a range of medical specialists on hand, so the helipad would greatly assist in medical transfers.

“Farming and motor vehicle accidents are also a fact of life in rural areas, and this facility will certainly save time, and probably lives,” he said.

Westpac Helicopter pilot, Dave Davies, responded on behalf of the Chairman of the board, Cliff Marsh, General Manager Richard Jones and the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service staff, thanked those involved in the construction of the helipad.

“The Service has been operating for 11 years and completed over 2100 missions,” Mr. Davies said.  He said the service has an annual operating cost of $3.4 million dollars and of this, 50% is funded from NSW Health department and the other 50% is raised by corporate, private and community efforts. The service has evolved from a small single engine helicopter operating from borrowed facilities, into a purpose built, state of the art facility operating a twin engine, instrument rated helicopter fitted with night vision goggles, based at the Tamworth regional airport.

Mr. Davies, who has been with the  service for eight years, has seen “huge developments in the Medical services in the region”.

“Bingara hospital was an old building, full of character and charm, however there was a need to upgrade and you now have this new, modern facility, with its own helipad.

“When I first came to Bingara, we had to land the helicopter on a sporting (Gwydir) Oval. We also found a little spot between the hospital and the caravan park, where we could park the helicopter closer.

“Being closer saved time and double handling the patient, all very important to the patient’s outcome.

“With the community support that is shown here today, the addition of the new helipad will increase the effciency of the transportation of patients from Bingara to receive ongoing care, where the facility could be as close as Tamworth or further to Newcastle or Sydney.

“That is the beauty of the helicopter, door to door service to the facility that can best meet the patients needs,” Mr. Davies concluded.