New RACQ CareFlight Rescue chopper calls Brisbane home

Queensland’s lifesaving RACQ CareFlight Rescue service is expanding its operation, launching a new base and aircraft at Brisbane Airport today (September 18).

“The Brisbane Base and the AgustaWestland 139 (AW139) helicopter are CareFlight’s commitment to rapid delivery of specialist medical care from the capital, to patients throughout Southern, South West and South East Queensland,” CareFlight Chairman Rob Borbidge AO said.

“The Brisbane based crew has been hard at work since July 1, performing more than 110 missions in that time, many of them lifesaving.

“It’s already showing its worth to the community.”

Health Minister Cameron Dick toured the facilities today and said the new base would benefit many Queenslanders in need, wherever sickness strikes.

“This base is a practical demonstration of our Government’s commitment to medical care for communities, wherever they may live,” Minister Dick said.

“Earlier this year, we committed to a $56 million extension of funding for this wonderful service to provide experienced CareFlight doctors to serve on board the state’s emergency aircraft fleet for another three years.

“That is all part of our Government’s proactive approach to meeting changing demands in the delivery of air medical services within the state network, and ensuring that this service can continue providing access to high-quality medical facilities for those in need in all parts of our state.”

Five Emergency and Intensive Care Flight Nurses join the crews which comprise a Pilot, Co-pilot and CareFlight Doctor.

“Most missions will involve inter-hospital transfers requiring highly skilled nurses,” Mr Borbidge said.

“They all have a minimum of five years’ experience and a post graduate degree.

“We are very excited to have health care professionals with these skills on board our aircraft.”

Later this year the crews will shift from using one of the fleet’s Bell412 helicopters to the new medically configured, state-of-the-art AW139.

“It is our first new aircraft in 30 years of operation and is larger, faster and tailor-made for the demanding aero-medical requirements of CareFlight’s critical care crews,” CareFlight Chief Rotary Pilot Paul Forcier said.

“It can comfortably transfer two stretchered patients and two seated passengers, all under the care of a Doctor and Intensive Care Flight Nurse.

“We are incredibly excited about the intensive care capabilities this aircraft and our crews can deliver to much of Queensland.”

The RACQ CareFlight Rescue helicopter and two of CareFlight’s Air Ambulance fleet share this hangar, reducing costs, response times and centralising medical resources.

“It’s the best use of funding from the State Government, long term partner RACQ, our other dedicated sponsors and, of course, our supporters in the many communities we also call home,” Mr Borbidge said. 

The Brisbane Base helicopter will also fly neo-natal missions with specialist paediatric teams on board.

“The facility ensures CareFlight crews are only minutes from some of the best hospitals in Australia, enabling them to also deliver intensive care neo-natal specialists across CareFlight’s footprint of care,” Mr Borbidge said.
 
“That quick turnaround means we are on our way to some of our most precious patients sooner.”

The Brisbane announcement follows last week’s launch of a North Queensland Base at Mount Isa following the merger with North Queensland Rescue.

Both community helicopter bases are proudly supported by long standing naming rights’ sponsor RACQ.

RACQ Executive General Manager Advocacy Paul Turner said the Club’s 21 year commitment to CareFlight was one of the longest running in Queensland’s history. 
 
“It’s another way we can come to the rescue of our members,” Mr Turner said.

“Our members are immensely proud of the fact that we dedicate $3 million a year to this service which, like our roadside assistance, provides peace of mind 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.”

“RACQ and CareFlight have been involved in one of Queensland’s longest partnerships to ensure residents, visitors and travellers now have a blanket of aero-medical care in 41 shires in Queensland and Northern New South Wales,” Mr Borbidge said.

“It’s only fitting our helicopters wear the yellow and blue colours of RACQ CareFlight in Brisbane and Mount Isa.”

The base launch today takes the number of RACQ CareFlight Rescue community bases to six.

CareFlight aero-medical rapid response teams already operate out of Toowoomba, Bundaberg and the on the Gold and Sunshine coasts.

Last financial year alone these four bases flew more than 1,400 missions.
 
“We are always looking to expand our blanket of care,” Mr Borbidge said.
 
“It’s vital that we are there for as many Queenslanders as possible.
 
“The bases give us that flexibility, and the ability to cover other regions when helicopters are already out on missions.”