Rotorua residents are being asked to give generously to support their local BayTrust rescue helicopter service.

More than 7590 rescue missions were undertaken by rescue helicopters around New Zealand last year, including 116 in the Rotorua region.

As part of this month's nationwide Westpac Chopper Appeal, the BayTrust Rescue Helicopter is asking the community to get behind their local helicopter.

The appeal aims to raise funds and continued awareness for the 16 rescue helicopter services operating around the country. All donations raised go back to the region they are collected from.

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"The BayTrust rescue helicopter is your rescue helicopter and we need your support," Rotorua pilot Barry Vincent said.

"Your donations save lives - we are rescue ready 27/4 because of your generosity," he said.

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.

Westpac funds the marketing and administration costs of the appeal, and distributes 100 per cent of funds raised back to the local rescue helicopter trust where the money is given.

Westpac's corporate affairs director Sue Foley said the country's rescue helicopter services often make 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."

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Ms Foley said there would be thousands who will need their local chopper over the coming year.

"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 help with accidents in difficult locations and support search and rescue and fire operations.

The majority of funding for this service comes from the community - from sponsors like Westpac, and other fundraising activities.

Everyone who donates online at www.chopperappeal.co.nz will have the unique opportunity to upload their Facebook profile picture which will be printed it on one of the rescue helicopters, making it "The People's Chopper".

The People's Chopper will be around for New Zealand to check out throughout June.
Donations can be made at any Westpac branch, or on the web at www.chopperappeal.co.nz.