Our Story - Rescue 522

The familiar buzz of the iconic blue and yellow RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter is well known in Bundaberg and beyond, but the rescue chopper service has a long, colourful history in the region.

In March 1998, the then Sunshine Coast Helicopter Rescue Service recognised a desperate need for an aeromedical rescue chopper further north, in the Wide Bay.

Operating as the ENERGEX Rescue helicopter, a Bell Jetranger became operational out of the Bundaberg Airport.  The move was initially approved as a three year trial.

In May 2001, the Queensland Government committed additional funding to continue the Bundaberg service and upgrade the base’s aircraft to a Bell Longranger.

Five years later, the then State Government increased funding for all of Queensland’s community-based helicopters.

The following year, in December 2007, Bundaberg’s Bell Longranger was replaced with a Twin-Squirrel.

2008 saw the base upgrade its helicopter to a BK117.

The chopper’s colours changed in 2009, when ENERGEX sold its retail business to Australian Gas & Light, the company which subsequently became the service’s new major sponsor.  The fleet of rescue choppers then became operational as the AGL Action Rescue helicopters.

In July 2013, the decision was made to merge CareFlight (operating out of the Gold Coast and Darling Downs) and the Sunshine Coast Helicopter Rescue Service (with bases on the Sunshine Coast and in Bundaberg).

The move saw the union of Queensland’s two biggest helicopter rescue services and the Bundy-based chopper change its colours to the iconic blue and yellow.

Three short years later, the aeromedical rescue organisation was renamed LifeFlight, but that’s where the change ended; pilots, air crew officers and Queensland Ambulance Service flight paramedics have remained committed to saving Queensland lives.

All crew members who work on board the helicopters are local, so live and breathe for the Wide Bay region.

That means when disaster has struck and the aeromedical crews have been called in to action, it hits home for them too.

NOTABLE MISSIONS

  • The hunt for the man responsible for the horrific Childers Backpacker Hostel in 2001.
  • Queensland Rail Tilt Train derailment in Rosedale in 2004.
  • Devastating Bundaberg floods in 2011 & 2013.
  • Ocean searches for boat crews reported missing off the coast of Fraser Island (2016) and 1770 (2017).