Seaforth residents could be forgiven for thinking it was an episode of X Files – bright flashing lights and deafening noise descending from the dark night sky in their sleepy, beachside town.
RACQ CQ Rescue’s Bell 412 helicopter made a surprise landing on the local cricket pitch, next door to the Seaforth Bowls Club, in the tiny township about 40km north of Mackay, about 8 pm last night.
An RACQ CQ Rescue spokesperson said the rescue helicopter was initially tasked to assist with the rescue of a sick fisherman from a trawler offshore near Seaforth about 7.30pm.
After takeoff from the base at Mackay Airport and a short flight north, the crew quickly identified the vessel off the coast and upon assessing the situation, determined that winching the patient from the bow of the boat was not possible.
While still airborne, the rescue helicopter crew made contact with Mackay’s Volunteer Marine Rescue (VMR) on frequency Marine 16 to arrange the retrieval of the patient from the boat and transport back to the mainland, the spokesperson said.
The rescue helicopter then proceeded to land on the cricket pitch at Seaforth to await the arrival of the patient, much to the excitement of patrons and diners at the adjacent Seaforth Bowls Club.
As the aircraft had been reconfigured to conduct a winch and given the condition of the patient, a decision was later made to transport the sick man to Mackay Base Hospital by road ambulance instead, accompanied by the RACQ CQ Rescue flight paramedic.
An RACQ CQ Rescue spokesperson said the landing of the region’s rescue helicopter on Friday night had created considerable excitement in the usually quiet, beachside town which has a population of only about 700 people.
“The pizzas delivered to the helicopter by the Seaforth Bowls Club was an incredible and very generous show of support for our service and the sometimes difficult job our crew does,” the spokesperson said.
“It was certainly greatly appreciated by our crew as they waited on the ground ready to transport a man in dire need of medical assistance.”
The rescue helicopter crew returned to base (with very full bellies) at 10 pm