’Mission that saved my brother’s life’: Helicopter milestone
OVER 35 years, Mick Kerry has been involved in some memorable missions in his role with the rescue helicopter, from the Kempsey bus crash to a search for a missing yacht, but for him, the one that saved his brother's life was the most significant.
A Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter aircrew officer based in Lismore, Mr Kerry recalled the call out that was very personal.
"Key missions are hard to define, but one mission that was very close to home was about 15 years ago," Mr Kerry said.
"I was on shift and was called to transport an adult male with a serious bleed on his brain. It turned out to be my brother who we transported to the Gold Coast Hospital in a very serious condition.
"Thankfully he made a full recovery and is doing very well."
Mr Kerry was also part of the response to the devastating Kempsey bus crash on December 22, 1989, and involved in a yacht search over three days for the 'Excalibur' which disappeared off Seal Rocks in 2002.
"I feel very proud to have been able to not only work in my current role for so long, but to be working in an industry that has such a direct effect on the community is very satisfying," he said.
Mr Kerry commenced his work with the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service at the age of 18, with the first seven years being voluntary. He started aircrew officer training in 1991 and began full time employment in 1992.
From 1995-2017 Mr Kerry was head of Aircrew Training and Checking in the northern region and in addition to this, held the role of Crew Chief Officer for six years from the late 90s through to the early 2000s.
When asked about his favourite part of his role, Mr Kerry said that without a doubt it was the people he worked alongside.
"The camaraderie that exists among the operational staff, engineers, admin and management is what has kept me happy in my role for the past 35 years. The friendships and memories that are built among the team and the funny and amusing times that our work colleagues provide us from time to time, are ones that will last forever," Mr Kerry concluded.
Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service CEO Richard Jones OAM said the respect shown to Mr Kerry by his colleagues was testimony to his value to the team in Lismore.
"He's a team player, with high standards across all aspects of his role and I've been told you could count on one hand the amount of sick days he's had," Mr Jones said.
"Whenever a shift is handed over, everything is in the right place, all checks have been done thoroughly and as a result he represents an excellent role model for his fellow Aircrew and colleagues.
"The service is very fortunate to have had someone like Mick serving our community for the past 35 years.
"Mick has a big heart and a strong community spirit, he's always eager to get involved with fundraising and loves giving back and saying thank you.
"This extends to his passion for golf, as whenever there is a Golf Day fundraiser and he isn't on shift, he will go along and play.
"Mick is just an all-round top bloke."