Queensland's iconic rescue chopper service marks 40 years

RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter service has clocked up four decades saving lives and serving Queenslanders.

The charity kicked off celebrations last night (13 October) ahead of a year's worth of events to commemorate the official 40 year anniversary and 25 year partnership with RACQ.

Speaking at the launch function, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk praised RACQ LifeFlight Rescue for its many years of helping the Queensland community, calling it ‘one of our great institutions’.

"My Government, through Queensland Health, is proud to support LifeFlight because our partnership delivers vital aeromedical services to those living, working or travelling in Queensland,” the Premier said.

Since the first patient was airlifted in south-east Queensland in 1979, the organisation has saved more than fifty thousand lives.

“What began as a single aircraft helicopter rescue service is now an incredibly important link in our critical care network supporting Queenslanders, especially in rural and regional communities," said Ms Palaszczuk.

“LifeFlight’s work helps bridge the ‘tyranny of distance’, performing almost 2000 life-saving missions across our vast and sometimes unforgiving landscape each year.

“At any time of the day or night, at least three LifeFlight doctors are in the air somewhere.”

LifeFlight has grown to operate eight bases, ten helicopters, three Air Ambulance jets and more than four hundred medical, aircrew and support staff.

Its AW139 helicopters resemble Intensive Care Units in the air, allowing LifeFlight's critical care doctors and paramedics to administer immediate, potentially life-saving treatment. 

Former patient, seven year old Nick Van Dyk from Birkdale was recognised as part of last night's event. 

Now a happy, healthy school boy, in December last year, Nick was holidaying with his family at Noosa when he started looking pale and sick.

His mother, Megan remembers his fevers spiked above 40°C.

"We just thought he had a vomiting bug, and he just went down hill really fast," Megan said. 

The family didn't know at the time, that Nick suffers from a rare auto-immune disease. 

"He needed a lifesaving blood transfusion within the hour to survive. Luckily, RACQ LifeFlight Rescue was there to provide an emergency airlift to Brisbane," Megan said. 

LifeFlight is proudly marking another significant milestone - 25 years of working together with RACQ to provide the vital aeromedical service to Queensland communities.

LifeFlight Chairman the Honourable Rob Borbidge said helping Queenslanders is at the core of both organisations.

"Our enduring partnership, which spans two and a half decades, has been a natural progression of our shared values and ideals.

"Together, we have built the iconic blue-and-yellow RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters into a symbol of hope for those living in remote regions of the state," he said.

RACQ Chief Communications Officer Paul Turner called the partnership one of its most important community relationships.

"It's our deepest and our longest and it's one we hope goes for many, many years into the future.

"We've enjoyed working with LifeFlight, as one of Queensland's iconic organizations, a life-saving organization and one that we know fits very closely to the values that RACQ holds dearly," he said.

Last year, the Brisbane RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter aeromedical crews performed 472 missions.

Currently occupying a temporary base at Brisbane airport, the team will move to a new facility at Archerfield later this year. 

"The Brisbane base is playing a very important role and it's going to get bigger.  The fact those helicopters are pumping up record numbers of hours demonstrates just what the need for LifeFlight is and how important the RACQ LifeFlight partnership is," said Mr Borbidge.

He also paid tribute to the tireless efforts of the frontline aeromedical crews, both past and present.

"Spare a thought for those who remain on-duty tonight, forgoing their Saturday evening with loved ones to bring peace of mind and protection to all Queenslanders."