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Chopper: Angry MP Richard Drax Says 'We Fight On'

Whiskey Bravo Coastguard helicopter Portland

1:19pm 26th March 2013

Campaigners fighting to save Portland's Coastguard helicopter have reacted angrily to the news the UK's search and rescue contract's gone to an American firm.

In a statement, the MP, who has conducted a vigorous campaign to keep the helicopter flying, said that the decision was 'utterly flawed.'

' We know from the number of call outs and the number of lives saved that this helicopter pays for itself many, many times over,' he said.

'Last year alone, 25 casualties were flown directly to the trauma centre at Dorchester hospital. They would not have survived without the Portland helicopter. If we use the Department for Transport's own figures of £1.6m per fatality, these life saving missions have saved the public purse something in the region of £40m. When you consider that the Portland helicopter costs approximately £5m a year to run, this is truly a false economy.'

'And don't forget, these figures do not include all those who have been plucked from the sea, or a cliff top or a flood and simply needed warming up or minor medical attention.'

'The need for this helicopter has been proved many times over. When I read the Department for Transport's press release this morning, I despaired. They are still focusing on a 'faster, state of the art' search and rescue fleet and ignoring the obvious need to base helicopters close to where the action is.'

'Let me remind them. Twenty five per cent of all call outs in the country are centred upon Portland. Suggesting that simply because they are faster, these new helicopters can somehow reach two simultaneous events in different places is nonsensical.'

'We will fight on. I have to believe that in the end, they will see sense.'

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