I don't think it's being overly-dramatic to say lives will likely be lost if the Rotorua and Taupo-based rescue helicopters are scrapped.

You only need to look at the number of callouts the choppers attend. While not all are to help people with life-threatening injuries or illnesses, many are.

And those that aren't, well, a person with a broken leg or someone in a rural area with a rapidly worsening illness, needs medical attention as fast as possible. Which is where the helicopters come in.

The Central North Island is a haven for outdoors enthusiasts. We have mountains to climb, crossings to cross, forests to run and ride in, and lakes to swim and play in. But sometimes, things go wrong. And all too often it's the BayTrust (Rotorua-based) and Greenlea (Taupo-based) choppers that come to the rescue.

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Then there are the car crashes, which sadly, we get more than our fair share of. For serious crashes, it's not unusual to see two or three of the region's helicopters called in to get critically injured people to hospital.

So it's worrying to hear that under the National Ambulance Sector Office's call for air ambulance services proposals, Rotorua and Taupo are not included. Concerns have been raised that inevitably this will result in longer waits for help.

And when a few minutes can make the difference between life and death, that's a worrying thought.

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