A petition launched this week is urging the State Government to immediately expand WA’s rescue helicopter fleet by basing an additional aircraft out of Geraldton.
Shadow Minister for Emergency Services and Regional Health, Martin Aldridge MLC urged WA residents to support a petition launched by Geraldton resident Ian Dempsey, which calls for the establishment of a rescue helicopter for the Mid West.
“A marine rescue volunteer and former shipping agent, Mr Dempsey understands first-hand the important role of rescue helicopters in providing lifesaving medical support, critical patient transport, and aiding in search and rescue operations,” Mr Aldridge said.
“Mr Dempsey has been campaigning to set up a rescue helicopter in the Mid West for six years now, and this latest petition aims to draw attention back toward this important issue.”
Mr Aldridge said while the rescue helicopter fleet plays an important role in WA’s emergency service response, underinvestment by the State Government meant the service was limited to just two helicopters in Perth and the South West.
“The Opposition has long called for a rescue helicopter to be established in the Mid West, the largest population area in WA not to have access to this service,” Mr Aldridge said.
“This was supported by the recent Aeromedical Inquiry which recommended WA needed to more than double its current capacity, and found there was strong case to establish rescue helicopters in Geraldton, the Goldfields, and the Pilbara.
“This petition not only calls for a rescue helicopter to be urgently based in the Mid West, but also calls on the Government to increase the capacity of the fleet across regional WA, to ensure all residents have access to critical aeromedical support when needed.”
Mr Aldridge said the findings of the 2022 Coroner’s Inquest into deaths at Mount Augustus in 2019 and 2020 also made a case for a rescue helicopter for the region.
“The Coroner’s Inquest was tragic and highlighted the dire need for improved health services and emergency response in remote areas of WA,” Mr Aldridge said.
“The inquest established an undeniable need and unwavering community support for a rescue helicopter service.
“Mid West residents have every right to demand the same level of air support enjoyed by their counterparts in Perth and the South West.
“Shockingly, the Coroners findings reveal a proposal to establish a Mid West rescue helicopter had been contemplated by the Labor Government, but was apparently rejected.
“Time and again, the State Government has failed to prioritise the lives and wellbeing of Mid West residents, and it’s disgraceful they continue to dismiss an obvious solution which could offer swift assistance to those in need.”
The petition will remain open until 15 August 2023 and can be signed online at: LC e-Petitions (parliament.wa.gov.au)