Message from Doctor Jeff Hooper

I’m Doctor Jeff Hooper and I’m a critical care doctor on board the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters.

Every day doctors like me fly challenging missions to save lives of Queenslanders in our community, thanks to the support you provide us.

As we celebrate our 40th year of operation, it is humbling to look back at the service which began as a single aircraft with a volunteer crew and is now an incredibly important link in the Queensland healthcare network saving more than 5,500 people each year.

Now, at any time of the day or night, at least three LifeFlight doctors are in the air somewhere across Queensland.

I wanted to take the time to tell you first-hand exactly how our medical crews use your gifts to save lives on the front line.

I have been with RACQ LifeFlight Rescue for more than 13 years and there are so many memorable missions, for many different reasons.

Often the jobs that are considered ‘high profile’ in the media are often not necessarily the ones that are most memorable from our point of view. What we see day-to-day can be quite traumatic; we do see patients who are very unwell.

I remember a particular mission we did in the Gold Coast hinterland many years ago where a driver had gone over a 15-metre embankment. The process of landing, getting him out of there, getting him up to the helicopter, doing the critical care interventions and getting him to hospital as quick as we can; all your training kicks in in one spot. It’s a mission I won’t soon forget.

I had the privilege of meeting this patient a few months later at the base and it was incredible to see him alive thanks to the care we were able to provide that day.

Another memorable mission for me was the rescue of an elderly farmer outside of Toowoomba who was attacked by a bull. He suffered multiple rib fractures and required a chest drain and urgent transfer to hospital. I remember that being an incredibly complex mission.

One that was quite emotional for me happened on the Sunshine Coast. A car had overturned into water with two children trapped inside. As a father myself, my only thought was to get those kids out safely and make sure they were okay. Thankfully, the children were pulled from the wreckage and we treated and transported them to hospital in the helicopter. They remarkably made a full recovery.

Queensland is a really big state which means there’s big distances to cover. If any of these patients had to be taken by road ambulance to hospital, it would have taken hours and there is a high chance many of them wouldn’t have made it.

RACQ LifeFlight Rescue will always do its best to ensure children return to their parents and spouses are reunited. Every year there are more people needing our lifesaving service. Your gift will help keep our doctors and helicopters in the air.

I think that’s what I love most about this job; the variety of people we can help.

The other thing I love about this job is the people. The people that we work with are a really professional crew, aircrew, pilots, nurses and paramedics – they’re amazing.

You’re in a very small team. It’s either you and the paramedic or you and the nurse.

It’s challenging because there are lots of logistical issues. It’s very different to the way you might treat someone in a big emergency department with a whole trauma team, compared to treating someone on the side of the road when you’ve got an hour and half journey in a helicopter in front of you as well.

As soon as I started doing medicine, I realised emergency medicine was the place for me.

You’re treating a patient in the back of a helicopter while you’re strapped in a chair, wearing a helmet and flying at altitude. The emergency aspect was very appealing to me.

People often ask me how I stay calm in such dramatic situations. In terms of staying calm, it’s important to show outward calm. I don’t think you’re always necessarily calm inside but you need to reassure people around you and your team that you’re confidently going about your business and you’ve done this a thousand times before.

At times, this job can be very stressful. You go from zero to a hundred quite quickly. From sitting at the base one minute to going out to a life and death scenario the next minute. There’s a certain amount of adrenalin that keeps you going.

Sadly, tragic events happen all the time. You need to know your emotional limits and keep that balance so your “human” side stays calm during the most critical moments.

It’s important to go home and remember what you’ve got and that you’re lucky that you can go home and give your wife and kids a hug.

Nothing in life is guaranteed and you never know if you (or even my own loved ones) will need RACQ LifeFlight Rescue to fly them to hospital. Your gift today will ensure we’re ready for takeoff 24/7.

To unwind, I spend time with my children; I like to play sport and get out into the bush and go hiking.

In saying that, it’s an absolute privilege to be able to do the job we do.

When I first worked for LifeFlight more than a decade ago, I thought it was the greatest job ever. And I still do. LifeFlight crews have been saving lives for 40 years.

So I wanted to pass on my sincere thanks to you, for allowing me to do this rewarding and lifesaving work every day.

Please help us save more Queensland lives with a donation today.

Warmest regards,

Your RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Doctor - Doctor Jeff Hooper

P.S Thank you for your support, from all of the LifeFlight crew. Your gift - small or large - will truly make a difference.