Philips Search & Rescue Trust is hosting a rescue industry water-training day in Taupo on Saturday, with rescue helicopter personnel from Hamilton, Auckland, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Rotorua, Tauranga, Taupo, Wellington and Hawkes Bay.

The multi-industry training session will utilise Philips Search & Rescue Trust aircrafts, BK117 and AS350, working in conjunction with Taupo Coastguard, the harbourmaster's office and other emergency trusts.

The session is an opportunity to undertake water winch training in a simulated open water area as well as to practice and hone water winching skills and techniques. It will also provide an opportunity to share techniques, experiences and lessons between operators and rescue helicopter trusts.

Philips Search & Rescue Trust is the largest rescue helicopter trust in New Zealand, with six rescue helicopters and two fixed wing air ambulances. This year, Philips Search & Rescue Trust's group of rescue helicopters are exceeding the number of potentially life-saving missions compared to 2015. This mean more essential training is required to ensure pilots and crew are always rescue ready.


Philips Search & Rescue Trust crew trainer Bill McNeilly said: "Safety is our number one priority. Training ensures our pilots and crew are using equipment correctly and observing correct health and safety practices at all times. This enables us to keep ourselves, our patients and the public safe.

"The opportunity to do this type of training with our rescue helicopter trusts and EMS providers is so vital to ensure that we are all equipped with essential life-saving techniques."

The water winching simulation, with trained rescue swimmers, will take place at 5-Mile Bay, Taupo from about 1.30pm to 3pm.

With the help of Lake Taupo Coastguard and the harbourmaster's office, the BK117 and AS350 pilots and crewmen will practice and hone water winching, search and rescue skills and techniques in compliance with SAR requirements. Simulations are planned to include highline transfers, boat transfers, single and double strop (hypothermia strop) water winching techniques.