Responding to emergencies will become a lot easier for Rotorua's rescue helicopter crew, after it was gifted a spacious new ute to replace its sedan.
Space was a major factor in the upgrade, according to BayTrust Rescue Helicopter base manager and pilot Ben Fry.
"We have been using a Prius, gifted to us by Toyota, which was helpful, but there came a point when we realised we needed something more suitable.
"That realisation was during the Edgecumbe flooding. We were there for about a week, but were unable to transport many of the response tools needed as we didn't have the room.
"It was at that point we realised while we were a rescue and emergency service, we were unable to provide the full service."
The new Hilux ute, donated by Rotorua Toyota, has been branded and fitted with lights and a siren.
Mr Fry said their job description had evolved over the years, requiring the use of more tools.
"For example we respond to rural fires so there's the big fire bucket we need to transport.
"Prior to this we were relying heavily on our volunteers and support staff to provide vehicles with tow bars and space for equipment. We made do, though it wasn't ideal.
"While the Prius was awesome and we were grateful for it, this upgrade will make responding to emergencies so much safer, efficient and effective."
Rotorua Toyota general manager Shaine Pask said he was "over the moon" to be able to provide the upgrade.
"The work the rescue helicopter crew do in the community is vital and it is great to be able to help them in this way."