The Bay of Plenty's newest rapid-response rescue helicopter has flown its first mission.
The BK 117-IIX is the newest helicopter to be commissioned for the region and it is sorely needed.
In the past year, the Waikato Westpac, TECT, Greenlea and Palmerston North helicopters have flown a total of 2804 lifesaving missions.
Phillips Search and Rescue Trust, the charity responsible for fundraising for the North Island's largest pool of community helicopters, do not see demand for the machines slowing down any time soon.
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"[The new helicopter] gives the Coastal Bay of Plenty region assurance that your rescue helicopter will always be airborne when tasked," Phillips Search and Rescue Trust group manager Vanessa Richmond said.
The BK 117-IIX started work on May 22 when it flew to the rescue of a male patient in his seventies who was experiencing a heart event.
The patient was a spectator at a sports event when he started having difficulties.
The new helicopter made the 35-minute journey, met the attending ambulance in Whitianga and airlifted the patient to Waikato Hospital.