“This is my community” - LifeFlight air crewman looking out for locals

There aren’t too many people with as much community pride as LifeFlight air crewman Jim Lillecrapp. He’s lived in Mount Isa for 24 out of the last 30 years – and loves it.

“It’s got all the benefits of a major city centre but you’re still in the outback in a country area. But it’s got all the facilities of a major centre,” he said, with obvious pride.

So when a job came up with RACQ LifeFlight Rescue (formerly Careflight) in 2015, Jim jumped at the opportunity to help his local community.

 “Helicopters have been my life pretty much for the last 30 years. I’ve just got a passion for aviation especially choppers,” said Jim.

“I wanted to work for LifeFlight because we help people in need, and out here it’s helping people that you know.”

Jim has been drawn to remote and regional areas all of his life, after growing up on a sheep station in the north of South Australia. He completed primary school via correspondence.

His parents sent him to the ‘big-smoke’ in Adelaide to attend high school.

They say you can take the man out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the man, and true to that ethos, Jim headed back to his roots as soon as he finished high school.

“I worked as a station hand and stockman on properties in the north of South Australia, as well as in South West Queensland and Mount Isa,” said Jim.

In his mid-twenties Jim went looking for a new challenge, and he’s never looked back.

“Being a station hand and stockman we used a helicopter for mustering and it sort of just became a natural progression for me,” he said.

Over the years Jim gained more than 8000 flying hours as a pilot, flying mustering planes, and aviation charter flights. 

Jim now works at LifeFlight’s Mount Isa base, which houses the LifeFlight helicopter and Royal Flying Doctor Service fixed wing aircraft. The two iconic services last year agreed to a more coordinated use of available aeromedical assets by using the most appropriate aircraft depending on the medical emergency.

They established the Aeromedical Joint Operations Oversight Committee, which improves collaboration between RFDS, RACQ LifeFlight Rescue, local councils and other emergency services, to ensure optimal patient care in the region.

Jim says no two days are the same with the crew attending to a wide variety of missions. That could include motor vehicle accidents, horse falls, accidents involving farm machinery or transporting a patient in between hospitals.

“We attend a number of motor vehicle accidents, and sometimes mustering accidents,” he said.

“Having the helicopter is so important because it means we can land close to a scene, and make sure we can get to a patient quickly and easily which minimises the amount of travel they have to undertake by road when they are injured or ill.”

On May 27, Jim and the LifeFlight crew will open the doors to the chopper and the Mount Isa hangar to the community, for the Mount Isa Emergency Services Open Day.

A joint venture with the Royal Flying Doctor Service and local emergency services, the day will feature a patient loading display by medical crews from road ambulance to aircraft, face painting, raffles, merchandise, a colouring in competition, and lots more family activities.

Entry is free, and all are welcome. The Open Day is on from 9am to 11am.