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Night vision to light the way for rescue helicopters

RACQ CareFlight Rescue’s Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg based aircraft will soon be equipped with high-tech Night Vision Goggles (NVGs) increasing safety for crews and the ability to reach patients after dark.

Currently both rescue helicopters operate without the aid of night vision goggles even though more than a third of their lifesaving missions are conducted at night.

The long term project, which will cost more than $1 million, is focused on achieving night capabilities.

NVGs will enhance visibility during night retrievals so crews can better detect hazards and obstructions and have greater situational awareness.

Leading the charge to help fund the project is long-time supporter Energex who has committed $100,000 over two years to purchase eight sets of state-of-the-art NVGs.
 
This initial seed funding is the beginning of a long term project for CareFlight.

Before NVGs are able to be utilised cockpit reconfiguration and aircraft modifications are required.

Pilots and crew will then need to complete rigorous NVG training.
 
David Donaldson, CareFlight spokesperson said the vision enhancement will make flying safer for both the crew and the people being airlifted to hospitals.

“This is an expensive undertaking but one we know the crew and community will benefit significantly from,” said Mr Donaldson.

“CareFlight’s Gold Coast and Toowoomba helicopters are already fitted with this world-class technology and we’re pleased our Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg crews will soon follow suit.
 
“Once equipped, our crews will basically be able to see in the dark.
 
“They’ll be able to fly and land on the side of an unlit road or in a paddock, conduct difficult night winches and also continue search and rescue missions after dark.
 
“Depending on our ability to obtain funding, we hope we’ll be operational in 12 months,” Mr Donaldson said. 
 
Energex CEO Terry Effeney said the organisation was thrilled to contribute to a vital community service they’ve supported for nearly 20 years.
 
“Over the past two decades Energex and our customers have contributed more than $11 million towards CareFlight’s Sunshine Coast rescue chopper operations and we’re delighted to continue this support,” Mr Effeney said.
 
“This technology has been on CareFlight’s wish list for a long time and we were in a position to kick that off for them, so we did.
 
“All of us at Energex look forward to seeing the positive difference the NVGs make for the brave CareFlight crews charged with saving lives – often during difficult conditions.”
 
CareFlight, a registered charity, hopes other major sponsors and supporters can be found to ensure the NVG project sees the light as soon as possible.