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CareFlight performs more than 60 critical hospital transfers in one month

The RACQ CareFlight Rescue community helicopter fleet has been flying around-the-clock transferring more than 64 seriously ill patients between hospitals throughout April, averaging more than two patients per day.

It’s on track for another busy month as twenty patients have been airlifted between hospitals in the first week of May alone.

Chief Executive Officer, Ashley van de Velde said a hospital transfer may be a daily task for the crew but knows they save lives.

“The patient may be suffering from an acute illness or injury, severe trauma, or their condition may require immediate specialist care,” Mr van de Velde said.

“The crew is tested with multi-dimensional challenges for each airlift such as the complexities of the patient's medical condition, their age and the logistics.

“These life-saving tasks are helping bridge the gap between regional hospitals and larger centres with specialist facilities.

“It’s a vital service that regional communities can’t do without,” stated Mr van de Velde.

Former patient Jack O’Bryan, who was airlifted last year, knows just how vital this service is.

Mr O’Bryan was admitted to Nambour General Hospital suffering a life threatening aortic rupture, as a result of a previous operation on his heart.

Doctors at the hospital quickly placed a clamp on the aorta, while the RACQ CareFlight Rescue helicopter was urgently dispatched from the Sunshine Coast base at Maroochydore to transfer him to the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital.

A CareFlight Doctor and QAS Intensive Care Flight Paramedic on board each airlift accompanied Mr O’Bryan during the flight.

“Once at hospital, the eight-hour operation involved cutting off the aorta completely to allow blood flow to my vital organs in the stomach,” Mr O’Bryan said.

“A graft was also inserted in my right shoulder to provide blood flow to my legs.”

Mr O’Bryan’s life-saving operation could not have been possible without the help of RACQ CareFlight Rescue.

He was airlifted within 22 minutes, compared to two hours and 15 minutes if he had been transported by road.

The speed with which a CareFlight helicopter got Mr O’Bryan to hospital was a big factor in his recovery.

“Thanks to the many doctors and wonderful service of the CareFlight crew – I wouldn’t be alive without your wonderful service,” Mr O’Bryan added.

Last year, the crews performed 779 inter-hospital transfers.

That’s more than half of all missions RACQ CareFlight Rescue flew across Queensland.