PACIFIC AIR AMBULANCE TAKES OVER FROM NZ AIR FORCE

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AUCKLAND, New Zealand (August 11, 1997 - Radio Australia)---A private air ambulance company has taken over the New Zealand Air Force's role of flying acutely-ill South Pacific islanders to New Zealand for urgent medical treatment.

Reports in the New Zealand press say the air force cannot now afford the cost of an average of six mercy flights a year because of continual cuts in defense spending.

Pacific Air Ambulance, which previously supplied the air force with medical crew and equipment for evacuations, now is responsible for the emergency rescue mission, under contract with the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The company carries out similar work for insurance companies.

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