News -

Crew put to the test en route to rescue

Since Christmas, the RACQ CareFlight Rescue helicopter has flown to Fraser Island 16 times to help more than a dozen people, including children suffering burns, stings and serious medical conditions.

But last night the life saving service and the safety of it's crew was put in jeopardy by the tourists it so often saves.

As the chopper was preparing to land near Orchid Beach, holiday revellers in four-wheel-drives began driving from the southern end of the beach to the north, shining headlights and a hand-held spotlight directly at the approaching helicopter.

Pilot Peter Potroz flashed the helicopter’s spotlight in the hope the beachgoers would refrain from their disruptive actions, but instead they persisted. “It made the landing difficult and more timely than usual, but we remained calm and concentrated on the task at hand,” Mr Potroz said.

The crew was called to the island to treat and airlift a 36 year old Park Ridge man with lacerations to his left arm after he put it through a plate glass window at Orchid Beach.

“We knew the patient we were airlifting had lost a significant amount of blood and needed urgent medical treatment from our flight paramedic. Fortunately we got to him in time,” Mr Potroz said.

Upon landing, the helicopter’s flight paramedic together with QAS paramedics worked to stabilise the man who was later airlifted to the Bundaberg Base Hospital in a stable condition.

David Donaldson praised the efforts of the highly skilled helicopter crew but warned that last night’s incident posed a severe safety threat to them as well as the culprits.

“Safety is always our number one priority and the outcomes of last night’s incident could have been catastrophic for all,” Mr Donaldson said.

“Our crew has done an amazing job managing this situation and the risks at hand, I can’t commend them enough”.

The incident has been reported to Fraser Island Police.

*This rescue mission was completed when the Sunshine Coast service operated as AGL Action Rescue prior to the July 1 2013 merger with CareFlight Group Queensland.