RACQ LifeFlight Rescue has been Queensland’s leading community helicopter service for more than 40 years.

We bring emergency, lifesaving medical treatment to seriously ill and injured people. Our purpose has always been the same – to save lives and support Queenslanders during their time of need. This purpose is at the core of everything we do.

We are:

Reliable
Every day, no matter the hour, no matter the location, we’re there if someone needs us.

Dedicated
A better way of improving patient outcomes is always top of mind. What can we do better, safer? How can we get there faster?

Agile
The time between new learnings in rescue situations and embedding them in best practice and training is rapid. We assess, learn and improve on everything we do and then...repeat.

We will always be there for the Queensland community, and for the partners and clients who leverage our services and support our mission through their patronage.

We enter often chaotic and dangerous situations calm and well prepared. Our patients and partners know they are working with an experienced team that is on top of its game. New learning is forged on the front lines one week and taught in our Training Academy the next. Because we are thorough in our approach, we can be confident in our delivery.

Our confidence makes people feel safe in the midst of uncertainty.

Our history

Our world-class reputation has been built on a 40-year heritage of providing an aerial mantle of safety across much of Queensland.

That service continues to operate on a not-for-profit basis, supported by State Government funding, community donations and corporate sponsorships.

Australia’s second-largest state by area (almost five times bigger than Germany and 22 times larger than the United Arab Emirates), Queensland sprawls from its sun baked, sparsely populated ‘outback’ and its tropical northern jungles to the growing metropolis of its capital; Brisbane, and the internationally-renowned surfing beaches of the Gold and Sunshine Coasts.

In that often challenging environment, where on-the-ground medical treatment can be 100 kilometres or more away, LifeFlight helicopters have flown more than 56,000 missions over four decades, delivering rapid response critical care: from responding to motor vehicle accidents and patient retrievals from ships at sea to neo-natal and cardiac hospital transfers.

In 2004, our aero-medical capability reached new heights with the acquisition of our first, fully-equipped jet air ambulance to service the needs of the Queensland Health Department for interregional patient transfers and of the travel insurance industry and governments for medical repatriation tasking throughout Australia and beyond. To date, LifeFlight Air Ambulances have flown more than 6031 missions, from the Queensland outback to as far afield as Hawaii and Kenya.

As a further vote of confidence in our capabilities, for the past 15 years, Queensland Health has exclusively contracted LifeFlight for the recruitment, training and supply of doctors and nurses to the state’s other aero-medical providers, including the Royal Flying Doctor Service and the government’s own QGAir rescue helicopter fleet.

Recognising the often unique challenges posed by aero-medicine, LifeFlight Australia has sought, from our earliest years, to build a strong internal capability to train our people to the highest possible standards, whether in aviation, emergency medicine or in mission tasking and coordination.

Today, that ongoing commitment to quality training is embodied in the LifeFlight Training Academy, where our instructors pass on their current, real-world experience in aero-medicine to our medicos and flight crews, both upon recruitment and on a recurrent in-service basis. In addition, our Academy is delivering tailored training solutions to a growing number of external clients.

This includes governments and other aerial and emergency medicine service providers, who recognise and value our world-class instructional standards, augmented by such state-of-the-art training equipment as our Thales Reality H AW139 flight training simulator and ground-based AW139 medical and crew compartment simulators.

LifeFlight Timeline

1981

The Gold Coast Helicopter Rescue Service is formed with current CEO Ashley van de Velde as a volunteer.

1981
1987

The service’s helicopter is upgraded to an AS350BA Squirrel.

1987
1989

The organisation’s current CEO Ashley van de Velde becomes Chief Aircrewman, a role he held for 12 years.

1989
1992

The service changes its name to CareFlight Group Queensland and operations expand beyond the Gold Coast to cover southern Queensland and northern New South Wales.

1992
1992
1993

RACQ becomes the naming rights sponsor for the helicopter rescue service.

1993
1994

CareFlight Training Services (now LifeFlight Training Academy) is established.

1994
1995

CareFlight purchases its first Bell 412 twin engine helicopter.

CareFlight introduces its iconic CareFlight Bears and merchandise sales to raise funds for the service.

1995
1995
2001

CareFlight Medical Services (now LifeFlight Retrieval Medicine) is established.

2001
2004

The Group’s fleet expands with the purchase of a Learjet 36 and CareFlight’s Air Ambulance service begins.

2004
2006

RACQ CareFlight Rescue begins part-time perations in Toowoomba, servicing South West Queensland.

2006
2007

A Bell 230 twin engine helicopter is purchased and based at the Toowoomba hangar.

2007
2008

CareFlight’s Air Ambulance adds a Learjet 36A to its fleet.

2008
2009

A second Bell 412 helicopter is purchased to service the South West region.
CareFlight opens its HEMS Academy on the Gold Coast.

2009
2009
2010

RACQ CareFlight Rescue’s Toowoomba-based service becomes a 24/7 operation.

2010
2010
2011

April

The Surat Basin Gas Industry Aeromedical Service (Surat Basin Rotary Wing Aeromedical Evacuation – SBRWAME) is created.

Two additional Bell 412 helicopters are acquired to service the commercial contract.

2011
2011
2013

January

The Curtis Island Rotary Wing Aeromedical Service (CIRWAME) is created.

July

The CareFlight Coordination Centre (C3) expands to manage fleet logistics.

CareFlight Group merges with The Sunshine Coast Helicopter Rescue Service, which began operating in Queensland in 1979.

2013
2013
2013
2014

Rebrand of CareFlight Group QLD to CareFlight Group and CareFlight Medical Services to CareFlight Retrieval Medicine.

2014

October

A Challenger CL-604 jet is purchased to further expand the Air Ambulance fleet.
The first AW139 helicopter is acquired.
Agreement with Thales Australia to provide a Thales NextGen Reality H AW139 Full Flight Simulator is signed.

December

10-year Service Agreement with the Queensland Government is announced.

2014
2014
2015

Secured funding for our doctor service until 2019 with the Queensland Department of Health.

July

CareFlight merges with the Mount Isa-based North Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service (NQ Rescue) and commences service to North West Queensland.

January

A new aeromedical base at Brisbane Airport is launched.

2015
2015
2015
2016

July

Our new name. A new era begins in our proud history, CareFlight will be known as LifeFlight.

December

35th anniversary of LifeFlight (CareFlight). Officially incorporated into a public company on 15th of December.

2016
2016
2017

July

To support the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue service, the LifeFlight Foundation was officially formed and based at Robina, QLD.

2017
2018

June

LifeFlight achieved an incredible milestone, 50,000 lives saved since its first airlift in 1979.

2018

September

The new Clive Berghofer LifeFlight Centre officially opened at Toowoomba Airport.

Clive Berg Centre Toowoomba
2019

June

LifeFlight celebrates 25 years of partnership with naming-rights sponsor, RACQ.

July

LifeFlight reaffirmed its connection with communities across Queensland through the formal establishment of the LifeFlight Regional Advisory Committees.

July

Doctor training week in its entirety took place at LifeFlight Training Academy, for the new recruits joining the LifeFlight Retrieval Medicine team.

August

New contract with Queensland Health commenced for LifeFlight to provide Critical Care Doctors across the State’s aeromedical network.

2019
2019
2019
2019
2019

June

LifeFlight celebrates 25 years of partnership with naming-rights sponsor, RACQ.

July

LifeFlight reaffirmed its connection with communities across Queensland through the formal establishment of the LifeFlight Regional Advisory Committees.

2019
2019
2019

August

New contract with Queensland Health commenced for LifeFlight to provide Critical Care Doctors across the State’s aeromedical network.

2019
2020

February

Further expansion of the Air Ambulance jet fleet with three new Challenger 604 aircraft.

March

New Bundaberg Aeromedical base officially opened, a joint project with Royal Flying Doctors Service (Queensland Section).

DSC02127 Bundy Base Scaled
Community News 2

June

The State Government of Victoria selected StarFlight to meet the requirements of the Victoria Police Aviation Capability Program (ACP), following its decision to acquire three AW139 helicopters for its Air Wing. The contract is being delivered via StarFlight Victoria – a special purpose company – and is a joint venture with Fox Aircraft Services and LifeFlight Australia.

2020
2020
2020

February

Further expansion of the Air Ambulance jet fleet with three new Challenger 604 aircraft.

March

LifeFlight Foundation supports fit-out of jet fleet to combat COVID-19 through a dedicated fundraising appeal which saw over $500,000 raised.

New Bundaberg Aeromedical base officially opened, a joint project with Royal Flying Doctors Service (Queensland Section).

2020
2020

July

State Government of Victoria selected LifeFlight to meet the requirements of the Victoria Police Aviation Capability Program, delivered by our subsidiary StarFlight Victoria and commercial partner Fox Aircraft Services.

2020
2020
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