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Sky high training for CareFlight crew

RACQ CareFlight Rescue pilots and aircrewman took part in annual water winch and vessel transfer training today, to prepare for an increase in off-shore helicopter rescues over summer.

The Sunshine Coast-based crew performed the spectacular display off Point Cartwright as part of a mock rescue demonstration with the Mooloolaba Coast Guard.

“On any given day, we could find ourselves winching a patient from a small recreational boat or a huge cruise ship, so we need to be prepared for any scenario,” CareFlight’s Training & Checking Pilot Aaron Regan said.

“Winching a patient from a vessel is one of the most challenging situations we face, with the vessel moving and aircraft moving, so it takes a large amount of coordination between rescue services to make it happen safely.

“In Summer, more people are out and about on the water and, as a result, the number of water related missions increase during this period.”

The Mooloolaba Coast Guard was on hand throughout today’s training to assist the CareFlight team.

Pilots and Aircrewman took turns being winched down onto the Coast Guard boat to practice vessel transfer training and were also winched into open ocean to simulate rescuing a mock patient stranded at sea.

This was the first of four major training sessions scheduled to retrain all CareFlight crew between November and January 2016.

“All our crews undertake this specialised training every 12 months to ensure they are up-to-date,” Mr Regan said.

“It’s not a question of if, but when we will put this training into practice.

“Most water rescues are undertaken in poor conditions or with a very limited time frame, so it’s important to put procedure into practice regularly so everyone is prepared,” he said.

RACQ CareFlight Rescue’s helicopters are often tasked to critical rescue missions up to 100 nautical miles out to sea. Last year, CareFlight’s crews completed 25 missions involving water winches or searches at sea.

Some of these included winching a captain off a bulk carrier, winching an ill person from a cruise ship, searching for missing fisherman and retrieving crew from a capsized catamaran.