Photo courtesy of SouthCare
The fate of SouthCare’s Snowy Hydro Bell Helicopter 412 is no longer up for debate. While the healthcare provider still plans to have a rescue helicopter, SouthCare said that the Bell 412 is to be replaced, and the sponsorship that gave Snowy Hydro its name is to end after 15 years of partnership.
“Since October 1998, SouthCare has enjoyed the strong support of our region. The Snowy Hydro SouthCare helicopter, affectionately known as ‘Charlie,’ is a familiar sight and sound across the region providing life-saving aero-medical and rescue services,” said Carol Bennett, SouthCare Trust CEO. “It’s a community resource on call 24 hours a day, every day of the year, and it’s vital to our region’s 1 million residents and 5 million visitors each year.”
That helicopter has performed nearly 7,000 rescues over the last 18 years. But now, SouthCare management is set to change hands from CHC Helicopter to Toll Group in April. With the new management comes a new Leonardo AW139 that is to be part of an eight-helicopter fleet, serving Southern New South Wales (NSW), Australia.
Local news outlets reported that SouthCare is unsure if it will continue soliciting donations, as the new service would be funded by the New South Wales and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) governments. That would mean the Friends of Snowy Hydro SouthCare fundraising group would come to an end. It is understood that new management and new funding is beneficial. But some are sad to see the end of nearly two decades of the 412 and the community engagement that kept it flying.