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CareFlight performs first mission on board new AW139 helicopter

RACQ CareFlight Rescue’s Brisbane-based crew completed its first mission on board the new AgustaWestland 139 (AW139) helicopter today.

“After six weeks of intensive crew training, the AW139 helicopter officially became operational this morning,” CareFlight Operations Manager Matt O’Rourke said.

The milestone flight was a hospital transfer for a 65-year-old woman suffering a cardiac condition.

“A female patient was airlifted from Hervey Bay Hospital to Nambour General Hospital for specialist care,” CareFlight Pilot Jeremy Ovens said.

“She travelled in a stable condition.”

CareFlight’s new AW139 helicopter will enhance its lifesaving service to the community.

“The faster AW139 aircraft features a state-of-the-art cockpit and avionics system, and a much larger working space for the medical crew in the rear of the aircraft,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“It will ensure CareFlight can operate at full capacity well into the future.”

The new helicopter, which can comfortably transfer two stretchered patients, underwent a specific Emergency Medical Service installation in October to prepare it for its important role in the air-medical environment.

“The medical fit-out needed to transform the AW139 into a flying Intensive Care Unit was significant,” Mr O’Rourke said.

Medical configurations and safety specific modifications included provisions for at least 1,600 litres of oxygen, a special medical-grade floor to withstand corrosive elements, and an electrical system capable of powering medical equipment such as monitors, neonatal cots and defibrillators.

The aircraft was also configured with communication systems, weather RADAR, Night Vision Goggle (NVG) capabilities, a night search light and more.

The AW139 helicopter will operate out of CareFlight’s new Brisbane Base, which was officially unveiled at Brisbane Airport on September 18.