Rescue chopper service marks major milestone
FLYING an injured jet ski rider from Clermont marked the 9000th mission milestone for a Mackay-based rescue crew.
RACQ CQ Rescue flew a 35-year-old man, suffering a seriously broken leg from a boating incident believed to have happened at Theresa Creek Dam, to Mackay Base Hospital in a four-and-a-half hour mission about 1pm Saturday.
It was the 553rd rescue by the rescue chopper this year, seventh flight last week and second visit to Clermont in just 24 hours.
The service had marked its 8000th mission on April 26 last year. And with mission numbers increasing annually for the rescue organisation, this 9000th milestone highlights the ever-growing need for such a lifesaving service in the region.
RACQ CQ Rescue chief executive Ian Rowan said the service was incredibly proud to have helped thousands of individuals in their moment of dire need and to have made a difference to so many lives across the region in 23 years.
"We have already saved more than 500 lives this year - whether it be via hospital transfers, attending motor vehicle or workplace accidents or search and rescue missions and we're incredibly proud to have grown both in size and status to become one of the most trusted and highly respected not-for-profit organisations in the state," Mr Rowan said.
This year alone the rescue helicopter has transferred more than 78 cardiac patients, 115 patients with serious medical conditions, 27 from falls or accidents, 25 with cranial injuries, 28 injured in motor vehicle accidents, 14 people hurt in workplace accidents and completed 18 search and rescue missions.
There have also been 40 flights to transfer critically ill or injured patients to Townsville, each costing about $27,000.
Mr Rowan said reaching 9000 missions was yet another impressive achievement for the charitable organisation, which started in 1996 in a small demountable building, using a quarter of a shared hangar space at Casey Ave.
In the first full year the service's single engine Bell Longranger helicopter undertook 92 tasks and operational costs were $1 million.
By 2019, operational costs had reached $9.45 million and tasks numbers were expected to exceed the 636 missions completed last year, Mr Rowan said.
"From our base here in Mackay we cover an area four times the size of Tasmania with one primary and one back up helicopter," 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.
"Our rescue helicopter is synonymous with saving lives across Central and North Queensland. Every day, with every life we save, we are continually proving our worth to this community."