Huge growth in demand matched by strong community support and goodwill had ensured 2016 was a record year for RACQ CQ Rescue.
The Mackay-based rescue helicopter clocked up 542 tasks in just 11 months (January to November 2016) and more than 900 flying hours, a marked increase on last year’s total of 518 tasks. This represents a substantial increase in missions for the community-funded helicopter with three weeks of the year to go and equated to more than 1.5 tasks a day.
This incredible growth in demand meant RACQ CQ Rescue, which this year celebrated 20 years of saving lives and the milestone of 7000 missions, was the busiest single-base rescue helicopter servicing regional Queensland.
RACQ CQ Rescue Board chairman Chris Wright said the despite the recent challenging economic climate, high levels of public and corporate support for the service was a testament to the commitment and pride the community had in the blue and yellow rescue helicopter and their life-saving role in this region.
“These statistics clearly indicate both the demand for and the incredible level of service our community-funded rescue helicopter consistently delivers to people in this community and beyond,” Mr Wright said.
RACQ CQ Rescue base manager and pilot Greg Webb said it was a privilege to be able to serve the community and be a lifeline to those in dire need.
“It has been a massive year for the rescue helicopter crew with increased task numbers, but certainly a very rewarding one,” Mr Webb said.
“It’s really a phenomenal feeling to know that our service has touched a record number of people this year and that we’ve been the difference between life and death on hundreds of occasions.”
With a service footprint more than four times the size of Tasmania, the most visited destinations by the rescue helicopter in 2016 included the Whitsundays Islands and west to Clermont as well as more than 30 flights north to Townsville for patients requiring specialized medical care.
There were 25 search and rescue missions undertaken between January and November and the rescue helicopter attended 33 tasks involving motor vehicle accidents, equating to an incredible three tasks per month.
Cardiac conditions, workplace injuries and serious falls and accidents were just a few of the major reasons the helicopter was tasked across the region in 2016.
One of the higher-profile tasks completed by RACQ CQ Rescue included the airlift to the hospital of Barefoot Bushman Rob Bredl, who was attacked by a crocodile at this wildlife park at Bloomsbury in September. Mr Webb was also the pilot on duty when three-year-old Zoey Baillie was airlifted in a critical condition twice by RACQ CQ Rescue after a tragic backyard swing accident at her home in Koumala in August.
Mr Wright said with an ever-increasing workload, the financial support of the generous community the rescue helicopter served was of paramount importance.
“It’s been a huge year and we’ve had some fantastic successes, but our service really wouldn’t be possible without the phenomenal support we receive from the community we serve,” Mr Wright said.
“We are incredibly proud to be able to fly to the assistance of hundreds of individuals in their moment of need every year and to provide such a high calibre, time-critical aeromedical service the people here in regional Queensland deserve and expect.
“With a new Chief Executive Officer to be appointed in the New Year, 2017 promises to be another year of challenges and even greater triumphs for the team at RACQ CQ Rescue. On behalf of the board, crew and staff, we wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to serving this region into the future,” Mr Wright said.