June a Record Month for Mackay-based Rescue Helicopter

Mackay’s rescue helicopter has set another new record making June the second biggest month in the service’s 20-year history.

RACQ CQ Rescue completed 51 tasks last month and accumulated 90.58 flying hours which cost the community-funded service almost $700,000.

This record month tops the 45 tasks completed in July 2015 which made RACQ CQ Rescue one of the busiest single-base rescue helicopters in Queensland. The busiest month on record was April 2014 when the rescue helicopter completed an incredible 62 tasks.

RACQ CQ Rescue CEO Martin Cleland said June was traditionally a slow month in terms of task numbers but this year, June has been one of the biggest and busiest months for the community-funded helicopter in its 20-year history, averaging 1.7 airlifts per day.

Mr Cleland said the service’s Bell 412 helicopter had been tasked to a variety of time-critical missions last month including three search and rescue missions, four cardiac patients, three motor vehicle accidents, two falls/accidents, two Irukandji envenomations, four abdominal conditions and one patient with severe burns, although inter-hospital transfers remained the most often reason the rescue helicopter was tasked.

Two patients were transferred to Townsville Hospital for further treatment in June at a cost of about $24,000 per mission. Patient ages ranged from five to 87 years old, Mr Cleland said.

Last month the most frequent destination for the Mackay-based helicopter was Clermont, followed by locations with the Mackay district, Moranbah, Bowen, Collinsville and Dysart as well as tasks to Hayman Island, Mt Charlton and Nebo.

Two children were airlifted due to serious respiratory illness and an unseasonal Irukandji jellyfish sting in the Whitsundays. Six missions involved people with fractures, four adults with respiratory conditions and eight with serious medical conditions.

One of the most high profile tasks was the airlift of a man from a property near Teemburra Dam on June 6 after he was gored by a wild bull. He sustained very serious injuries including broken ribs, a punctured lung and severe lacerations and bleeding.

“June was a very busy month for RACQ CQ Rescue. It cost more than $650,000 to airlift, rescue, winch and transfer patients which are ultimately funded by our community. While you can’t put a price on people’s lives if you’ve contributed to our Annual Appeal, our patients have you to thank because, without your donations, we simply wouldn’t be able to provide this vital service’” Mr Cleland said.

Mr Cleland said the rescue chopper’s mission numbers were increasing annually and that the June figures were an accurate representation of the ever-growing necessity for such a life-saving service in this region.

“From our base here in Mackay we cover an area four times the size of Tasmania with one primary and one reserve helicopter. Despite this, we can still maintain a 98% level of availability to those who need us within our community and that is one of the highest rates within aeromedical retrieval services in the state,” he said.

“We are a small but very dedicated team and delivering some very big results, but importantly, we are also a not-for-profit service which is absolutely vital to the sick and injured within our community. Where would they be without RACQ CQ Rescue?

“RACQ CQ Rescue has an annual operating budget is $8.3 million, half of which comes from corporate support and community donations, so I strongly urge people to show their support for the life-saving work we do every day and please donate generously to our Annual Appeal,” Mr Cleland said.

“The next life we help save might be yours or someone that you love.”