Injured Fisherman Winched From Vessel 200km Offshore

RACQ CQ Rescue flew more than 976km in an epic 10-hour mission late yesterday to winch an injured man from a fishing charter boat on a remote reef near Heron Island.


The 69-year-old man suffered a fall and hit the back of his head on board the vessel Eastern Voyager earlier yesterday and was suffering seizures and was in an out of consciousness. The fishing vessel was on a charter and located about 120km north-east of Heron Island, near Swain Reefs.

The Mackay-based rescue helicopter, with a doctor, Critical Care Paramedic and rescue crewman on board, was tasked about 1.15pm due to the Rockhampton helicopter being unavailable, and flew direct to Gladstone to refuel before again refuelling at Heron Island, about 80km offshore.

The helicopter flew another 120km north-east to meet the Eastern Voyager and winched down the paramedic and rescue crewman on to the 25-metre long vessel with medical equipment. The Dornier jet from Cairns provided coverage over the top as the winch was conducted more than 200km offshore.

About 25 minutes later, the injured man was stretcher winched with the paramedic back up into the helicopter, followed by the rescue crewman and he was flown to Rockhampton hospital, arriving at 6.40pm in a stable condition. The charter boat was believed to be returning to Gladstone as relatives of the injured man were still on board.

The mission took a marathon 10 hours to complete and required the Bell 412 to be refuelled four times including at Gladstone, Heron Island twice and Rockhampton. RACQ CQ Rescue returned to base in Mackay at 9.45pm.