CareFlight becomes LifeFlight: Still saving lives

A new era in Australian aeromedical care was ushered in this morning with CareFlight changing its name to LifeFlight.

LifeFlight Chairman Rob Borbidge made the announcement in Brisbane and said the change of name reflected the growth and renewal phase which the company was undergoing.

Mr Borbidge said all organisations changed and evolved and the name change was decided only after much deliberation by the board.

“The change is in name only. It’s business as usual today at LifeFlight,” Mr Borbidge said.

 “LifeFlight was chosen because saving lives is what we’re all about and our patient focus and dedication to a total blanket of care for people in their hour of need all around the state won’t change.

“The change of name is also necessary to reduce confusion in the community and the market place with CareFlight New South Wales, which started around the same time as us, but which is a totally separate organisation and different charity from CareFlight Queensland.”

Mr Borbidge was joined at the announcement by LifeFlight CEO Ashley van de Velde.

Mr van de Velde was CEO of CareFlight and has been the driving force behind the creation and growth of CareFlight after starting as the company’s first aircrewman with the Gold Coast Helicopter Rescue Service in 1981.

He said LifeFlight’s great partnerships with Queensland communities, especially in regional and rural areas, would remain and the organisation would continue to work closely with all of its partners – including long-time naming rights partner RACQ – to save lives – anyone, anywhere, anytime.

“Since 1981, CareFlight, now known as LifeFlight, has flown 44,000 critical care missions and our core mission of saving lives and caring for people won’t miss a beat,” Mr van de Velde said.

“Aside from the name, nothing else changes at LifeFlight.

“We are celebrating 35 years of service and our organisation remains not-for-profit. We will continue to be a major community helicopter rescue service in Queensland and a major provider to Queensland Health.

“What everyone at LifeFlight was proud of doing yesterday will go on today, tomorrow and the next day.”

RACQ Executive General Manager Advocacy Paul Turner said the club was very proud to continue its long association with the iconic aeromedical service.

“CareFlight has established an unparalleled reputation for its lifesaving care over the past 35 years and this name change to LifeFlight will further enable them to stand on their own feet in future,” Mr Turner said.

“LifeFlight creates a unique identity for Queensland’s incredible helicopter rescue network.”

Mr van de Velde also announced it had been a record year for life saving missions in its community helicopter rescue service in Queensland.

In 2015-16, CareFlight flew 1,864 missions from all of its Queensland community helicopter rescue bases, a 32% increase on 2014-15. Toowoomba, Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast were the busiest bases.

The top five missions types, according to injury and illness were:  cardiac chest pains (327); infections/serious illness (145); stroke/head/brain injury (99); falls from ladders/climbing (99); and respiratory conditions (93).

To celebrate its 35th year and the renewal program for its helicopter fleet, the new LifeFlight brand will take to the skies over Brisbane at lunchtime today with its three new AW139 helicopters flying together for the first time in a training exercise which may never be repeated.

The AW139s, which are all being equipped with a state-of-the-art medical fitout, have improved range and speed and will allow LifeFlight to get to more people in need of critical care.