With COVID-19 putting a halt to its face-to-face fundraising, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service has launched an online appeal with the hope of raising over $300,000.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service CEO, Richard Jones OAM, said the financial appeal would directly assist the service to save lives across Northern NSW.
"Annually, the people of Northern NSW are so generous in supporting this appeal. Year in year out we see that a little from many goes a long way and we are ever grateful for that,' Mr Jones said.
"We know that this year is different and donation support may be difficult for many in our community at this time. We are all in this together and we hope our appeal reaches out to everyone, with those who are able taking the steps to make their support count at this crucial time.
"Through the current coronavirus health crisis, our pilots, aircrew and engineers along with the NSW Health doctors and NSW Ambulance critical care paramedics who fly with us are working hard to deliver medical care for those in need across Northern NSW.
"Every year on average we fly over 1500 missions, including responding to emergency Triple 0 calls, inter-hospital transfers and search and rescue. We've also recently seen a milestone achieved by our Lismore base, who performed its 10,000th mission since operations started in that area in 1982."
Mr Jones said the service had taken additional steps to ensure the safety of patients and crew members during the pandemic, including modifying procedures and increasing the use of personal protective equipment.
While he encouraged people to donate, Mr Jones said he was also mindful that many communities were yet to recover from the bushfire crisis and were now faced with further challenges because of COVID-19.
"We are very conscious that not everyone in our community is in a position to donate but we will be very grateful to those that are able," he said.
"This truly is a community-run service. In the end we are one community and as our thoughts are with those who are suffering in these trying times, our focus remains on the provision of the best aeromedical support for those in need 24/7."