1992Mackay’s emergency services are overwhelmed by a major multi-vehicle road crash in an isolated area near Lake Elphinstone. A Mount Isa Mines (MIM) helicopter flies to the aid of those involved, transferring them to Mackay Base Hospital and helping ensure they all survived.
The incident highlights the need for a rescue helicopter to service the many areas of Central Queensland that are remote or difficult to access by ambulance. Hospital and ambulance workers call a meeting to discuss the establishment of a helicopter rescue service and work to secure the Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service.
1994A Public Meeting is held on November 16 to outline the requirements and need for a Helicopter and Rescue Medical Retrieval Service, with the aim of forming a Community Committee.
An official committee is elected on December 8 and Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service Limited is officially registered.
1995Queensland Government promises to contribute $300,000 if Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service Limited raises $300,000.
A full-time fundraiser is employed to ensure the money is raised to secure the Queensland Government’s support.
Cook Family Trust donates $500,000 over five years.
1996Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service registers its trading name as CQ RESQ.
CQ RESQ’s premises consist of two dongas and a quarter of a shared hangar.
CQ RESQ’s first helicopter arrives, a Bell Longranger 206 (VH-LHP).
Initial sponsors include Thiess, BMA, Queensland Rail and CFMEU.
CQ RESQ isn’t even commissioned yet when it flies its first mission to Hayman Island, where a woman is critically unwell with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy on August 27.
CQ RESQ completes its first official flight on September 1.
58 tasks are carried out that year.
1997216 tasks are carried out in CQ RESQ’s first full year of operation.
1998271 tasks are carried out.
1999260 tasks are carried out.
2000CQ RESQ flies its 1,000th mission on August 11.
CQ RESQ undergoes a selection process to choose a new aircraft to enhance the service’s capabilities, with a Bell 407 being chosen.
2001The Bell 407 helicopter arrives (VH-HTD) and VH-LHP becomes the services back-up aircraft, turning CQ RESQ into a two aircraft base.
CQ RESQ employs its first full-time Air Crewman and Rescue Crewman.
RACQ becomes the naming rights sponsor of CQ RESQ.
2002Flight nurses from Mackay Base Hospital take a very active role in RACQ CQ RESQ, participating in approximately 80% of missions.
2003VH-HTD crashes off Cape Hillsborough on October 17. Three crewmen are tragically killed – Andrew Carpenter, Stewart Eva and Craig Liddington.
The service is taken offline until October 31 when it once again becomes operational.
RACQ CQ RESQ flies its 2,000th mission on November 11.
The first stage of a Federal Government grant is received to build new premises for RACQ CQ RESQ.
2004A Eurocopter 365 C1 Twin Engine helicopter (VH-PVK) enters the service. VH-PVK is a former police airwing helicopter and was also previously the private aircraft of Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu.
CQ RESQ changes its trading name to CQ Rescue to clarify its identity and reduce confusion around the name.
RACQ CQ Rescue moves into its new premises.
2005VH-LHP is retired and replaced with a Bell 412 (VH-NSP). VH-NSP has been used previously as an air ambulance, in addition to being used by the Pope during his tour of South America in 1983.
Queensland Health provides a full-time doctor for daily operations.
Senior Base Engineer, David Jibson, is awarded the National Medal, which recognises long and diligent service by members of recognised organisations that help the community during times of crisis.
2006RACQ CQ Rescue celebrates its 10th anniversary, holding a gala dinner on September 30.
VH-NSP is replaced by another Bell 412 helicopter (VH-NSV).
2007Queensland Government commences contributions of $2 million per annum.
RACQ CQ Rescue flies its 3000th mission on April 23.
2008RACQ CQ Rescue plays a large part in the rescue of 37 people from tourist ketch “Romance” on February 12. It is the largest helicopter rescue ever recorded in Australian Maritime History to a single vessel. A Bronze Bravery Medal from the Royal Humane Society of Australasia is awarded to the crew members involved.
2009The second stage of a Federal Government grant is received to build a multi-purpose aeromedical base to house two helicopters and a fixed-wing aircraft.
Chairman of the Board, Peter Bastable is awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to emergency medicine and RACQ CQ Rescue.
VH-PVK is retired and a second Bell 412 helicopter (VH-BZH) enters the service, making RACQ CQ Rescue the first community helicopter base in Queensland to be operating two Bell 412 helicopters.
2010RACQ CQ Rescue flies its 4000th mission on January 15.
CQ Rescue Testing Services is established to provide drug and alcohol testing services to the booming Mackay heavy industry sector. Profits are directed to RACQ CQ Rescue.
2011RACQ CQ Rescue is called upon to provide flood assistance to Brisbane in January. VH-NSV is flown south and flies 10 life-saving tasks in 7 days.
In February, RACQ CQ Rescue provides disaster assistance to Townsville in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Yasi. VH-NSV flies 9 tasks in 4 days.
RACQ CQ Rescue celebrates its 15th anniversary, holding a gala dinner on September 2.
2012Flood assistance is provided to Brisbane for the second year in a row, with VH-EPK relocated to Brisbane for 4 days in February.
2013Eight RACQ CQ Rescue past and present crew members are awarded the National Emergency Medal in March, in recognition of their work during the natural disaster-stricken start to 2011.
On July 1, the contract with new helicopter provider Australian Helicopters commences and a Bell 412 EP helicopter (VH-CQJ) is introduced as RACQ CQ Rescue’s primary aircraft. A Bell 412 SP helicopter (VH-LSY) is introduced as RACQ CQ Rescue’s backup aircraft.
2014RACQ CQ Rescue Volunteer Co-ordinator Bob Sim is announced as an Australia Day award recipient, receiving an Order of Australia Medal for his service to the community.
On Easter Monday, RACQ CQ Rescue locates five missing people at Wigton Island in the Whitsundays after a huge ‘SOS’ is spotted etched into the sand.
509 tasks completed and 900 engine hours flown.
2015Dr Peter Bastable, founding board member and director, receives Mackay Regional Council Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award for his services to the community spanning some 25 years.
2016RACQ CQ Rescue celebrates 20 years of saving lives in this region with a gala ball at the Mackay Entertainment and Convention Centre.
Reaches the milestone of 7000 missions in August.
2017551 tasks are completed in 961.77 flying hours. Operational expenses reach $8.65 million.
CQR Health rebrands to become CQ Rescue Health Services.
2018RACQ CQ Rescue flies its 8000th milestone mission on April 26.
The service mourns the passing of community stalwart and long-time volunteer Bob Sim.Record 636 missions completed.