“TOKEN” contributions from Gympie Regional Council and even substantial funding from the State Government are not enough to keep the life saving AGL Action Rescue Helicopter service in the air, Gympie Region Deputy Mayor Tony Perrett said yesterday.
Cr Perrett’s comments followed a visit to the service’s headquarters at Sunshine Coast airport and an earlier decision by council to encourage direct donations to the service, including from its own staff.
Council recently ruled out offering payroll deduction facilities to staff wishing to make donations, because of the administrative cost of doing so, preferring to have the money go more directly to the service.
“We only make a small contribution, a token,” Cr Perrett said yesterday of council’s direct donation.
The service has saved many lives in the Gympie Region and beyond, as well as relieving pain and reducing permanent damage to seriously ill patients and traumatised accident victims, by speedily carrying the sick and injured to hospitals, here or at Nambour or Brisbane, where they can receive the best possible treatment.
CEO Rob Walford yesterday said the organisation had an annual budget of $7.2 million, of which $5.5 million was provided by a combination of the State Government, AGL Energy and Energex, with the rest gratefully received in the form of donations from the public, community groups, businesses and councils.
The service’s two new twin engined choppers cost about $3500 an hour to run, compared to about $2000 for its older aircraft, but the new ones had a capacity to fly on instruments, making their service more readily available in low visibility conditions, including fog and night time darkness.
“We’ve probably done 150 missions directly involving the Gympie Region and nearby areas in the past four years, a little less than one a week.”
Donors and fund raising volunteers are very welcome to contact the service on 54 588 700, he said.