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New recruits take to the skies for CareFlight

Fifteen doctors put theory into practice yesterday after they were winched from a hovering rescue helicopter at Archerfield Airport, as part of their final training as CareFlight’s new intake of Registrars.

This specialist training session saw the recruits lowered down a winch wire, practicing double winching and stretcher winching over land, to ensure they are prepared for any emergency aero-medical situations they might encounter out in the field.

“Winching is a challenging process that involves not just their incredible skills as doctors, but also the physical demands,”CareFlight’s Aircrew Instructor Matt O'Rourke said.

“They could be winched down to a critically injured patient on the RACQ CareFlight Rescue helicopter, have to lug heavy equipment across paddocks at a farm accident, or spend hours treating a seriously ill person on a Royal Flying Doctors’ aircraft or one of CareFlight’s own medically equipped air ambulances.

“It really is all in a day’s work for these new recruits.”

For the next six months 15 Registrars will call CareFlight home, operating as critical care doctors out of centres across the state, which includes every Government EMQ helicopter in Queensland and CareFlight’s fleet of 11 helicopters.

Thirteen men and two women, including six Australians, round out the new Registrar roster.

Today’s winch exercise is part of a week of intensive, hands-on training to get the new recruits accustomed to the challenges of frontline aero-medical care.

“Last year alone, CareFlight’s 120 doctors had nearly 4,000 patient contacts, attending to more than 10 patients a day,” CareFlight Chief Medical Officer Dr Allan MacKillop said.

“Today they are being winched, but this week they also tackled chest trauma, road crash rescue, and the many other pre-hospital scenarios they will find themselves in daily.

“Saturday they will be dunked during Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET).”

The new intake of doctors will be stationed at aero-medical bases around Queensland including the Gold Coast, Gladstone, Sunshine Coast, Roma, Toowoomba, Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton.