Mothers and children dying in childbirth prompted plan for helicopter rescue service 

The plight of mothers and children dying in childbirth and a little girl who fell into an open fire and had to wait for hours for medical help have been cited as some of the driving forces behind a helicopter rescue service which says it will have its first aircraft in Tonga next month.

Australian Rodger McCutcheon, who describes himself as founder and chief crewman of the operation, told Kaniva News he had been working for two years to establish the company.

However, he admitted that he had no funds to operate the service and that its operations had not yet been approved by Tongan regulators.

He said he had  been living in Nukuʻalofa for nearly two years. He claimed the service would be the first to perform lifesaving emergency work, tour guide and commercial work.

“I was told of a number of shocking cases, one a little girl who fell into and open fire and was in extreme pain for over 10 hours before she got to hospital,” McCutcheon told Kaniva News.

“I also saw a man seriously injured and bleeding badly who also had to wait 15 hours before getting medical help, and then I was made aware of mothers and children dying in childbirth due to complications and no fast access to medical help.”

“From that point I have worked hard to bring a world class helicopter service to Tonga.”

Helicopter 7
The Tonga helicopter service will be supported by one of Australia’s leading helicopter operators providing Pilots and Maintenance Engineers. Photo/Rodger McCutcheon

 

He said the first of two helicopters for Tonga would arrive on February 6. It would be a Eurocopter AS350 fitted with a stretcher kit. It would also be capable of  carrying a large life raft, long lines and nets and a fire fighting bucket.

“I am keen on life saving training exercises with HM Armed Forces and the Police, and also the hospital trauma team, so we can have trained divers and medical staff etc to assist in lifesaving emergency situations,” McCutcheon said.

Tonga in promotion

McCutcheon claimed the helicopter service would help promote tourism in the kingdom.

“I have offered to bring a special HD aerial camera fitted to the helicopter,” he said.

“We can film the beauty of Tonga and this footage can be used by Tonga tourism to assist with marketing.

Helicopter 3
The helicopter services will also be working in and promoting tourism activities for Tonga. Photo/Rodger McCutcheon

“The Tonga helicopter service will be supported by one of Australia’s leading helicopter operators providing pilots and maintenance engineers, the new Tongan service will bring the highest levels of safety and professionalism to Tongan skies.

“We will also be employing up to 10 Tongans to assist us with ground operations and safety and security.

“There is still much to do gaining approvals to fly in Tonga, but I have had good support from Government Ministers and positive discussions with Civil Aviation staff and hopefully the quality and 25 years of experience of the Australian service, which I am mirroring in Tonga, will meet with approval of the regulators.

Owner and operator

The new helicopters service will be a Tongan registered company. The shareholders will be McCutcheon, who will live in Tonga to crew and manage the operation, Ian White who runs The Helicopter Service in Victoria and Michael Van Der Zypp, who owns The Helicopter Group in Australia.

Helicopter 2
Tonga Helicopters has a strong focus on quality, and experiencing the Pacific Islands from the air in a helicopter is a guaranteed highlight for visitors to Tonga. Photo/Rodger McCutcheon

“I have no funding for the work, but we are prepared to give Tonga our best shot and see what work develops,” McCutcheon said.

“Now the dream for Tonga becomes a reality.

” ‘Saving Tonga Lives’ has been my slogan from day one. I have not given up even when things got almost impossible for me,” McCutcheon said.

McCutcheon has been described by Radio New Zealand International as founder of Tonga Rescue Helicopter. RNZI said he had been listed in the Federal Aviation Administration Airmen Certification Database.

He is also described online as South Pacific manager for Aviation Project Management.

During the controversy over Real Tonga’s use of the MA60 aircraft, McCutcheon claimed to RNZI that the aircraft was safe and that he had New Zealand pilots ready to fly it.

The New Zealand government withdrew aid money from Tonga until the aircraft was grounded and replaced. The MA60 has been involved in a number of incidents around the world.

The main points

  • The plight of mothers and children dying in childbirth and a little girl who fell into an open fire and had to wait for hours for medical help have been cited as some of the driving forces behind a helicopter rescue service which says it will have its first aircraft in Tonga next month.
  • Australian Rodger McCutcheon, who describes himself as founder and chief crewman of the operation, told Kaniva News he had been working for two years to establish the company.
  • However, he admitted that he had no funds to operate the service and that its operations had not yet been approved by Tongan regulators.
  • He said he had been living in Vava’u for nearly two years. He claimed the service would be the first to perform lifesaving emergency work, tour guide and commercial work.

For more information

Airbus Helicopters AS350

New Zealand pilot says China may wade into NZ-Tonga dispute (RNZI)

NZ pilot says Tongan plane safe, and NZ should approve (RNZI)

Sometimes when a business is growing, it needs a little help.

Right now Kaniva News provides a free, politically independent, bilingual news service for readers around the world that is absolutely unique. We are the largest New Zealand-based Tongan news service, and our stories reach Tongans  wherever they are round the world. But as we grow, there are increased demands on Kaniva News for translation into Tongan on our social media accounts and for the costs associated with expansion. We believe it is important for Tongans to have their own voice and for Tongans to preserve their language, customs and heritage. That is something to which we are strongly committed. That’s why we are asking you to consider sponsoring our work and helping to preserve a uniquely Tongan point of view for our readers and listeners.

Latest news

Related news