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New jet up for the challenge

A tiny baby girl needing urgent specialist medical care is the first patient to be treated and transferred on board CareFlight’s new Air Ambulance.

Based in Brisbane, the Challenger CL-604 officially became part of the fleet in October, expanding not just the Air Ambulance resources of CareFlight, but its flight range and patient capacity.

“Two critically ill patients can be treated by two independent specialist medical teams on board,” CareFlight Chief Medical Officer Doctor Allan MacKillop said.

“This is a distinct advantage for the patients and will be important if responding to a disaster situation.

“The extra space available on board also allows us to use larger and more complex lifesaving medical equipment.”

The Challenger’s range is equally impressive.

“It can fly in excess of 3,500 nautical miles or more than eight hours per leg,” CareFlight Chief Pilot Paul Regli said.

“This means CareFlight now has the capability to retrieve seriously ill or injured patients from around the globe.

“The long range also sees less refuelling stops which ensures patients travelling long distances arrive at their hospital destination sooner.”

Its first mission though was closer to home, a new borne baby girl in Cairns last Monday week.

“The child had a serious vascular condition that required urgent specialist care in Brisbane,” Doctor MacKillop said.

“The ability to fly a specialist Queensland Health Neo-natal retrieval team to Cairns and to have a fast return flight to Brisbane of less than two hours certainly produces the best possible outcome for the patient.

“It’s also very reassuring for the family to know that we will give their loved one rapid medical care and get them to a specialist medical centre quickly.”

The Challenger CL-604 complements the existing fleet of two medically equipped Learjet 45 aircraft which have the capacity to cover Australasia and the Asia Pacific region.

Last year the Air Ambulance fleet flew 186 patients from locations as diverse as Bali, Mt Isa, Honiara, Oakey, Longreach and Suva.