News -

CareFlight’s sky high training for Coast lifeguards

Four daring Gold Coast lifeguards took to the skies today to undergo specialist water-winch training in preparation for placement on board RACQ CareFlight Rescue helicopters.

From January, a Gold Coast Council lifeguard will be on board the RACQ CareFlight chopper to provide their expert skills during water search and rescue operations, water winches and off-shore ocean rescues.

CareFlight Group Queensland CEO Ashley van de Velde said training lifeguards for challenging water rescues allows Flight Paramedics to concentrate exclusively on providing the highest level of medical treatment to the patient.

“CareFlight is delighted to include the specialist skills of Gold Coast lifeguards, who I consider amongst the best in the world,” Mr van de Velde said.

“The Gold Coast service was the only helicopter service in Queensland where Paramedics were sent down the winch wire during water rescues – a model developed back in the service’s Surf Life Saving origins.

“CareFlight and the Gold Coast City Council have worked together to re-introduce lifeguards on ocean and water missions with the support of the Queensland Ambulance Service.

“This model benefits the patients and provides the best medical care possible.” he said.

RACQ CareFlight Rescue’s helicopters are often tasked to critical rescue missions up to 100 nautical miles out to sea.

Water-winching in these locations is one of the most difficult exercises crews undertake and include searching for missing fisherman, winching sick people from cruise ships and saving people from stricken vessels.

Today’s spectacular water-winch training at Hinze Dam capped off a week of intensive training for the new recruits which included over-land winching, helicopter underwater escape exercises and theory.

The training was provided by CareFlight’s own Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) Academy based at Varsity Lakes.

CareFlight’s Aircrew Instructor Matt O'Rourke said the experienced council lifeguards would make a significant difference during water rescues.

"The skills lifeguards can now bring to off-shore rescues will make a huge difference in an already challenging environment,” he said.

“They passed the training week with flying colours and we’re really honoured to welcome them to the CareFlight team,” Mr O’Rourke said.