LifeFlight Board Chairman Hon Rob Borbidge AO and Assistant Minister for Regional Development Senator the Hon Anthony Chisholm shared shovel duties, to formally mark the beginning of the construction phase.
The multi-million-dollar facility is vital for future-proofing the aeromedical service in the region, with the existing base no longer meeting the operational needs, to service the Maranoa community and beyond.
It will feature a hangar large enough to efficiently house the AW139 aircraft, which is already dedicated to the Roma base, with the service provided by LifeFlight on behalf of Surat Gas companies – Shell QGC, Santos, Arrow Energy and Origin.
The Surat Gas Aeromedical Service (SGAS) provides medical support for mining employees and their families, as well as donating 150 flying hours per year, to respond to missions in the community.
“This will be a significant improvement on the current helicopter base and of course, we work closely with the SGAS partners, so we look forward to continuing to embrace that relationship into the future,” said Mr Borbidge.
LifeFlight Roma Base Lead Bryce Duke said the new Emergency Response Facility will help crew members work more efficiently, with space to conduct on-site administration, training, engineering and maintenance activities.
“There will be an increase in space for crew, staff meetings, training and equipment storage. Being purpose-built, it will be tailored to the needs of pilots, medical and support staff. It will be a lot easier to do our jobs and will also cater for the needs of our patients,” he said.
In February last year, the project was estimated to cost $2 million, with more than half of that amount funded by the Australian Government.
In October, LifeFlight received a $1,072,137 grant from the Australian Government.
“The Government is backing this project so LifeFlight has the facilities it needs to save lives in the future. This project shows the Government’s commitment to delivering the services and infrastructure that regional communities need. Funding projects such as this ensures our region remains a great place to live, work and visit,” said Senator Chisholm.
While this important infrastructure has received generous Government funding and the granting of a long-term peppercorn lease by Maranoa Regional Council, community contributions have also been vital to the project, with more than $1.5 million already raised through appeals and fundraising events.
Unfortunately, building costs are increasing and there is still a shortfall, so more donations are needed to help LifeFlight reach the new target.
“The donors in this region have been absolute local legends and really rallied behind this project,” said Mr Borbidge.
Donations from locals, community groups and the Maranoa Regional Council have also been boosted by significant contributions from a couple of businesses and a major anonymous donor.
“This is a base for the community, so we are asking the community to further support the project and the service, which supports them and their families when they need it most.”
Donations are always welcome to assist LifeFlight to continue the life-saving work of the aeromedical crews and enhance existing bases like Roma’s.
“We have been overwhelmed by the financial contributions from government and locals. We’re incredibly grateful for every dollar we receive,” said Maranoa Regional Advisory Committee Chair Kate Scott.
“Every gift, of any size, will bring us closer to an even safer Maranoa.”
People who are in a position to make a larger gift of over $500 will be forever honoured on LifeFlight’s Wall of Legends at the new Roma base.
Donations can be made at www.lifeflight.org.au/roma-base