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LifeFlight and emergency services in plane crash training

A high-intensity training exercise tested the skills, knowledge and cohesion of RACQ LifeFlight Rescue and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) when they combined forces at a simulated light plane crash at Perseverance Dam, north of Toowoomba today.

In a spectacular display of teamwork and rescue operations, the two emergency services conducted a range of remote access training exercises which paralleled real-life rescue techniques.


 

The exercise included simulated mission planning and beacon homing, winching, cliff-rappelling and a remote clinical rescue scenario where an injured ‘patient’ had to be evacuated from the bottom of a 100 metre cliff on the edge of the dam.

The rescue training scenario was designed to improve the skill sets of LifeFlight and the QFES, along with Queensland Police Service (QPS) and Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) officers, and their ability to all work more closely together when faced with a disaster in a remote area.


LifeFlight air and medical crews and QFES personnel braved the daunting winch and vertical rescue exercises in the name of saving lives, putting their training to practice in a range of simulated patient and rescue scenarios.

Emergency services swung into action just after 9am with a final briefing at the Crows Nest helipad, before the Toowoomba-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue aeromedical crew winched its Critical Care Doctor and paramedic down to the crash site on the edge of the dam.

The rescue helicopter also winched other equipment into place and then conducted subsequent flights ferrying several QFES officers from the helipad to the rescue site. 

The officers then trekked a short distance to the top of a 100 metre cliff face where they rappelled down to the ‘crash site’ where a patient (a training dummy) required critical medical care and medical evacuation.

While LifeFlight and QFES often work together with QPS and QAS at the scene of accidents across Queensland, today’s training events helped test and perfect their skills in a remote rescue scenario where vehicle access was restricted. It also showcased the full capabilities of the rescue services and their operational efficiency when working together.

“The exercises conducted today allowed RACQ LifeFlight Rescue and QFES crews to consolidate current skills in a more dynamic environment. The crews were required to assess certain situations and choose whether to respond autonomously or combine capabilities,” said LifeFlight’s Lead Instructor and Aircrewman, Shaun Gillott.


 

“This might be a training ground, but it is absolutely critical for our services to have the opportunity to work together in a ‘disaster-type situation when these rescue skills can be put into practice.

“LifeFlight has five community helicopter bases around Queensland and every day our aeromedical crews are faced with a range of lifesaving situations which could vary from a plane crash, to a motor vehicle accident, an injured bushwalker to a farm worker who has been injured in an accident with an animal or while using a piece of machinery.

“We just never know what we’re going to face from one week to the next which is why this training is important so that we can be prepared for every possible scenario.”

Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Technical Rescue Coordinator Mark Haddow said the exercise reinforced rescue skills to ensure crews were well prepared for vertical rescues in the region. 


“In simulating different scenarios, the exercise has given our crews the opportunity to hone our skills in a controlled environment and work alongside LifeFlight to remove a casualty from harsh terrain,” Mr Haddow said. 

“The exercise has also allowed us to practice the different communication techniques and problem solving skills firefighters must employ when faced with rescue incidents, especially in a remote area.”
2016 was a record-breaking year for RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters, flying 1,957 missions across Queensland costing the charity more than $24 million.

LifeFlight’s air ambulance service, with a fleet of three jets, now also sponsored by RACQ, also had a record year flying an additional 298 lifesaving missions both in Australia (183) and overseas (115) to countries including China, Vanuatu, Fiji, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Vietnam and Hawaii.

LifeFlight is a world leader in aeromedical care and Australia's most diversified service with both a fixed and rotary wing fleet, which flew the record number of missions in 2016 with 13 rescue helicopters and three air ambulance jets from 12 locations.

LifeFlight is a community-based charity that relies on donations from the public and community support.

To support LifeFlight visit:
https://www.lifeflight.org.au/page/support-us/