The Rotorua Lakes Water Rescue Squad, the Coastguard and the Rotorua-based BayTrust Rescue Helicopter spent several hours yesterday training with a new piece of equipment which will make rescues much quicker.
The multi-agency training day took place on Lake Tarawera and gave the organisations a chance to use the new winch which was recently installed on the rescue helicopter.
Helicopter pilot Barry Vincent said winching people was a faster and more efficient way of rescuing those who were in remote areas or on one of Rotorua's lakes, compared with previous methods such as long-lining.
Mr Vincent said the long-lining method often resulted in patients being towed underneath the helicopter until it was safe to land and get them in the chopper. With the winch, the patient could be lifted up and into the helicopter in a matter of minutes, something which Mr Vincent said was invaluable to the service.
"It is safer and more efficient for everyone involved."
He said it was also quicker to get to the patient.
"We used to have to get the helicopter ready which would take four or five minutes and that is all crucial time when you have to rescue someone from a cold lake."
Mr Vincent said yesterday's training went well, despite being held in challenging conditions.
"The weather wasn't the best but it actually gave us a realistic training environment because things like this could happen in bad weather."
He said training days like yesterday meant emergency services were prepared for any situation which arose in Rotorua.
"We have 14 lakes here and it is so important for us to be able to get to people as quickly as possible, especially since a lot of those lakes are in remote locations."