Wanaka rescuers recognised at NZSAR awards

Wanaka Alpine Cliff Rescue, Aspiring Helicopters and Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust received a Certificate of Achievement for the rescue of two climbers from Mount Aspiring on December 21. Photo: Supplied

Wanaka rescuers recognised at NZSAR awards

- By Danielle Butler and Glenda Turnbull / Wanaka Sun 

The 2016 New Zealand Search and Rescue Council Awards for 2016 were presented in Wellington on Wednesday night, May 10, with two awards featuring Wanaka rescue organisations.

Wanaka Alpine Cliff Rescue, Aspiring Helicopters and Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust received a Certificate of Achievement for the rescue of two climbers from Mount Aspiring on December 21.

The International Response Emergency Coordination Centre in the USA called the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ) saying they had received a spot beacon activation in the Mount Aspiring area. Other than the location and the beacon owner’s name, no other information was available.

Aspiring Helicopters and the Wanaka Alpine Cliff Rescue (ACR) team were deployed to locate the beacon and establish the situation.

The helicopter quickly located two badly injured climbers who had fallen approximately 800m, sustaining multiple broken bones and lacerations.

Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust deployed to assist with an advanced paramedic on board.

The ACR team stabilised the scene and both Aspiring Helicopters and Otago Rescue Helicopter Trust evacuated the two injured climbers.

Wanaka LandSAR coordinator Aaron Nicholson said that the ACR team trains hard and responds to calls for help from trampers, climbers or beacon activations.

“Dave and Lionel are both committed team leaders within the team and have a perfect combination of skill-sets to deal with challenging situations. The team is a group of strong mountaineers committed to rescuing people in any high-risk alpine or rock environments anywhere in the Southern Alps,” Aaron said.

The Certificate of Achievement was one of seven awarded for Operational Activity recognising the exceptional skill levels, training, communication and outstanding coordination.

John Taylor (pictured), of Wanaka Land Search and Rescue (SAR), was also awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Support Activity, recognising his commitment to search and rescue and LandSAR training.

John, who became involved in search and rescue as a tramper more than 30 years ago, said that he was overwhelmed to have received the award.

“I’m pretty surprised. The best thing about my time in search and rescue has definitely been the people involved, I could name so many people but certainly the present group involved in Wanaka Search and Rescue,” John said.

Aaron, who nominated John for the award, said that John reflected the values and commitment of SAR volunteers, giving up a lot of personal and family time to help others who may be in trouble.

“John has made a significant contribution to Wanaka Search and Rescue over the last 30-plus years, not only in an operational sense as a field team member and team leader in numerous operations but also as chairman of Wanaka Search and Rescue and chairman of the Southern Regional Search and Rescue group. In the last three years he has done an excellent job as a group training officer,” Aaron said.

John was one of five to be awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Support Activity, which is given for an important contribution to search and rescue in the New Zealand Search and Rescue Region, either during 2016 or over an extended period.




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