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Community & Business

27 July, 2021

Record rescues at Toowoomba LifeFlight

RACQ LifeFlight Rescue aeromedical crews performed a record 698 missions from the Toowoomba base last financial year, making the South West’s service the busiest in LifeFlight’s state-wide chopper fleet.

A RACQ LifeFlight helicopter in action at Pilton.

The top five missions for the Toowoomba chopper, according to illness and injury:

  1. Motor vehicle accidents (68)
  2. Serious illness/infection (44)
  3. Cardiac (42)
  4. Medical (unspecified) (34)
  5. Falls (32)

Those community missions are valued at approximately $17.4 million dollars, with each airlift’s average cost estimated at $25,000.

The service comes at no cost to the patients.

RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Director of Helicopter Operations Brian Guthrie said crews have responded to a variety of accidents, from motor vehicle accidents on the highways, through to quad bike accidents in farming and regional areas.

Toowoomba-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter pilot Dave Hampshire said he has a difficult yet rewarding job.

“When we get on scene as the first responders it can be very confronting but we’ve got a great team and we do the very best we can,” Mr. Hampshire said.

RACQ spokesperson Clare Hunter said the organisation is an incredibly proud sponsor of the LifeFlight helicopters, Air Ambulance jets and Critical Care Doctors and she recognises the service is responding to more incidents involving vehicle trauma.

“We know that RACQ LifeFlight Rescue is attending to a number of motor vehicle crashes across the state, consistently and they are there to help and we are very grateful for their service, but we wish they didn’t need to attend these crashes,” she said.

The crews spent 1062.8 hours in the air to help the community - the equivalent of flying from Toowoomba to London return, nine times.

“The majority of our missions are in support of Queensland Health, moving patients between hospitals, patients who really need to be moved from the regional areas back to a higher care facility and we have the doctors and the capacity within the helicopters to enable that,” said Dave Hampshire.

Toowoomba’s record tasking tally contributes to a record financial year for LifeFlight Australia.

In the past 12 months, RACQ LifeFlight Rescue’s combined resources of community helicopters, Air Ambulance jets and Critical Care Doctors, have performed 6,733 lifesaving missions, 400 more than the previous financial year.

RACQ LifeFlight Rescue’s community helicopters, based around Queensland, completed 2,113 of those missions, with the added challenge of quickly adapting to maintain safe operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Guthrie said changes made include setting up screens inside the aircraft and protective equipment for people. 

“We carry additional equipment for both the people and the patient... so we are prepared if there is an event where we are responding to a COVID-related patient, whether it’s suspected or confirmed, our crews can respond anywhere any time,” Mr Guthrie said.

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