Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service

The Community’s Own Westpac Rescue Helicopter proudly provides a vital 24-7 aeromedical search & rescue service for the people of Northern NSW. 

Today the Service delivers world class care for 1.5 million people from three bases in Belmont, Tamworth and Lismore. 

In April 2017 the Service commenced operations in the AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters. These state of the art Italian built aircraft, enable the Rescue Helicopter crew to fly further and faster, saving valuable time and precious lives. 

Along with the Pilot and Aircrew Officer, every primary response mission today leaves with a dedicated NSW Ambulance Paramedic and Local Health District Doctor and depending on the needs of each patient the team may include specialist nursing professionals. 

Together, the highly trained Rescue Helicopter team is working to ensure the highest standard of care is provided for every patient at the scene of their accident. 

Every dollar we raise helps to keep the Rescue Helicopter flying 24-7 for those in need.


It costs about $40 million a year to keep the helicopters and crews ready to respond when needed. 

About $12 million of the cost is raised through sponsorships, Volunteer, Support Group activities, events and partnerships with our community. 

The remainder is funded through contracts with NSW Health and NSW Ambulance.  

AW139 fleet

Four AW139’s cover 1.5m people throughout Northern New South Wales, from the Hawkesbury to the Queensland border, making it one of the leading aeromedical services in Australia. 

The Rescue Helicopters operate from three bases at Belmont Airport, Lismore Airport and Tamworth Airport. Deep maintenance, engineering and administration are at Broadmeadow (Newcastle). 

The AW139’s cost $1,000 per hour in fuel, $1,000 per hour to run the engine, $1,500 for the airframe and for $500 avionics, that’s a total of $4,000 per hour. 

The AW139 helicopters are bigger aircraft capable of flying for longer, faster periods, covering great distances.


The service is on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week and conducts about 1,500 missions each year.

These include:

  • Primary – attend accident site, treat and transfer patients to hospital
  • Secondary – transfer patients between hospitals for specialist treatment
  • Search and rescue – help to locate missing people, rescue and return to safety