Tauranga's rescue helicopter team has helped countless people get critical treatment over the years. Now it is asking for help.
More than 7590 rescue missions were undertaken by rescue helicopters around New Zealand last year including 111 in the Bay of Plenty region.
As part of this month's nationwide Westpac Chopper Appeal, the Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter aims to raise funds and continued awareness of their operation.
The national appeal will help 16 rescue helicopter services operating around the country with all donations going back to the region they are collected from.
Westpac's director of corporate affairs, Sue Foley, said the country's rescue helicopter services often made a life or death difference for many New Zealanders.
"The rescue choppers are intensive care units providing a dedicated 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service. Without them, the reality is many Kiwis could lose their lives because help cannot reach them in time."
Ms Foley says sadly there will be thousands who will need their local chopper over the coming year and that is why we should all support this amazing service.
"We never know whose turn will be next to need the service which is why it's important we all give generously as every donation counts."
The choppers are called on when medics think getting a patient to hospital quickly will make a big difference. They also assist with accidents in difficult locations and support search and rescue and fire operations.
The majority of funding for this unique service comes from the community - from sponsors like Westpac, a proud supporter for 35 years, and other fundraising activities.
Trustpower TECT Rescue Helicopter pilot Liam Brettkelly said "The support of our community allows us to save lives''.
''In 2015 alone, we flew 111 potentially lifesaving missions. Having the rescue helicopter available changed the lives of many people; please donate to safeguard this life saving service."
Running throughout May, the Westpac Chopper Appeal is supported by open days at the helicopter bases, a variety of fundraising activities in schools and community centres, as well as a nationwide street appeal on Friday May 6.
Westpac funds the marketing and administration costs of the appeal, and distributes100 per cent of funds raised back to the local rescue helicopter trust.