LifeFlight SGAS choppers soar into the future in the South West

The people of South West Queensland and beyond, will continue to receive the highest level of aeromedical care, with the renewal of the partnership between LifeFlight and its Surat Gas industry partners.

Announced by Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham today, the updated agreement guarantees the LifeFlight Surat Gas Aeromedical Service (SGAS) will remain in the region, for the next five years.

The updated contract will see two medically-configured AW139 choppers continue to be based in Toowoomba and Roma, available to respond around the clock, every day of the year.

“The LifeFlight Surat Gas Aeromedical Service has been stationed in Toowoomba and the Maranoa since 2011 under a partnership agreement with industry companies Shell’s QGC business, Santos, Arrow Energy and Origin,” LifeFlight Chairman Hon Rob Borbidge AO said.

Dr Lynham congratulated the industry companies for their commitment to keeping the dedicated service airborne until at least 2025.

“As a trauma surgeon, I know how much difference a rapid response service makes in emergency situations in remote areas,” he said.

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, a big part of our economic plan: Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs, will be our traditional strengths like the resources sector.”

“The CSG-LNG industry continues to deliver thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in business to Queenslanders here in the south-west.”

The SGAS helicopters provide coverage across eight council boundaries and a population of nearly 210,000 people.

In 2019, the LifeFlight SGAS crews came to the aid of 76 people in Queensland’s south-west, including gas company employees, family members and Queensland Health patients.

Since the partnership began, LifeFlight’s SGAS helicopters, have completed almost 700 missions.

“The four SGAS-funding companies are proud of the lives it has saved amongst farming families, rural communities, travellers and tourists, and our own workers. We are delighted to be able to continue funding this service for the next five years, for everyone’s benefit,” SGAS Steering Committee Interim Chair Michael Todd said.

The partnership sees the SGAS members donate 150 helicopter flying hours to the community every year.

“We’re committed to sharing the benefits of our activities in the communities where we operate. This is a strong example of how our industry supports a vital medical service for everyone across the region,” Mark Schubert, Integrated Gas Executive General Manager at Origin said.

The service was created to augment existing medical and emergency services, by providing aeromedical coverage, which was previously unavailable in some areas.

“This investment in vital regional medical services will save lives and protect lives. As an Australian company that supports the communities we operate in, Santos is proud to support improved health services for Queenslanders across the region,” Kevin Gallagher, Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer said.

The Lifeflight SGAS helicopter crews include a pilot, co-pilot, rescue crewman, critical care doctor and flight paramedic.

They are equipped to respond to emergency incidents, search and rescue situations and transport high-acuity medical patients.

“These aircraft are the most widely-used aeromedical rescue aircraft in Australia and are ideal for covering the great distances of the South West region,” Mr Borbidge said.

“With a sophisticated emergency medical service fit-out, the AW139 essentially operates as a mobile intensive care unit.”