About | Philips Search and Rescue Trust

Saving Lives

Philips Search & Rescue Trust’s aim is simple – to save lives. In a life or death situation it is the speed and agility of the rescue helicopter that can make all the difference. This essential service can reduce disability and improve the chance of survival – the sooner treatment begins the greater chance of patient recovery

Philips Search and Rescue Trust is the charity responsible for New Zealand’s largest pool of community helicopters. Encompassing six rescue helicopters and two fixed-wing planes, the rapid response service provides air health search and rescue services free of charge to the public on a no-fault basis.

Available through the emergency 111 call system, our rapid response rescue helicopters bring life-saving equipment, rescue personnel and trauma-trained medics directly to the patient.

Engaged when time is critical or accessibility is compromised, our search and rescue helicopters serve the Waikato – King Country, Bay of Plenty, Central Plateau and Manawatu – Whanganui communities. Providing timely assistance can reduce disability and improve survival – the sooner resuscitation and treatment begins the greater chance of patient recovery.

Powered by an experienced professional crew of pilots, paramedics, flight nurses and volunteer crewmen, in a life and death situation it is this speed and agility that can make all the difference, with patients able to receive urgent medical treatment while en route to a medical facility.

Always rescue ready, your local rescue helicopter is an essential emergency service for your community.

Westpac Air Ambulance

Philips Search and Rescue Trust also own and operate New Zealand’s Westpac Air Ambulance. Nationally recognised, the Westpac Air Ambulance is an accredited provider of Level 1 and 2 aero-medical transport services. Flying bedside-to-bedside, the highly experienced medical crew can accommodate one or two stretcher patients, non-stop, to any location in New Zealand.

Dispatched through the emergency 111-call system, your local rescue helicopter can be called to any of the following missions:

  • Emergency air ambulance response
  • Search and rescue
  • Winch operations
  • Night operations
  • Time critical inter-hospital transfers
  • AOS / SAR / Fire

When needed, your local rescue helicopters will be there, 24/7, 365 days a year.

Over 30,000 people owe their lives to one of the Trust’s rescue helicopters. Philips Search & Rescue all began with one single act of compassion.

In 1985 two senior Philips executives and a pilot lost their lives in a light aircraft accident, just south of Turangi. Philips instigated at that time, what was and probably still is, New Zealand’s largest privately organised search, which eventually found the lost aircraft.

After their loss, it became apparent to Philips that if a rescue service had been available, their executives and pilot may have survived. So, as a legacy to the country, Philips endowed what was to become Philips Search & Rescue Trust with the objective of providing the highest possible standard of air rescue and emergency helicopters to serve the people of the central North Island and wider areas of New Zealand.

Flight operations commenced in 1985, with a single engine, part-time helicopter based in Taupo and quickly gained a reputation as an effective operational unit, particularly within the specialist search and rescue field.

In October 1987, PSRT was made a dedicated, full-time rescue service. Philips Search & Rescue Trust (PSRT) is now the charity responsible for the North Island’s largest pool of community helicopters.

30 years on from that fatal flight, PSRT continues to provide air health and rescue services, free of charge, funded largely by the communities they are based in.

Waikato Westpac
Rescue Helicopter


Grant Bremner

Base Manager/Chief Pilot

Loren Haisley


Dan Harcourt


Bill McNeilly

Crewman/Crew Trainer

Simon Burrows


Trustpower TECT
Rescue Helicopter


Liam Brettkelly

Base Manager/Pilot

Todd Dunham


Rescue Helicopter


Ben Fry

Base Manager/Pilot

Barry Vincent

VFR Chief Pilot

Rescue Helicopter


Nat Every

Base Manager/Pilot

Palmerston North
Rescue Helicopter

Palmerston North

Chris Moody

Base Manager/Pilot

Lance Burns


Kelley Waite


Graeme Spiers


Errol Millar

Executive Chairman

Terry Burcher


Patricia Bayley


Stewart Davies


David Wickham


Vanessa Richmond

Communications & Marketing Manager

Patricia Parsons

Community Liaison

We Need You

It could be you, your family, friends, staff or patrons that need us. Your support ensures the rescue helicopters are available in your community.

The Philips Search & Rescue Trust’s rescue helicopters can be airborne in 10 minutes, and in a life and death situation, this speed and agility can make all the difference. It is the timely assistance that the rescue helicopters provides that can reduce disability and improve survival - the sooner resuscitation and treatment begins the greater chance of patient recovery.

But the cost of this is huge. Philips Search & Rescue Trust’s rescue helicopters do not receive any funding from the New Zealand Government. Your local rescue helicopter does have contracts with ACC, DHB and New Zealand Police, but this only covers 47% of the operating costs. This means 53% of this must come from the community.

Without community support, your rescue helicopter would not be able to remain operational on a 24/7, 365 basis, which would mean a serious delay in people being rescued, or transported to and from hospital facilities for urgent treatment.

Becoming a supporter of your local rescue helicopters means you will be making a life-saving difference in your community.

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