RACQ LifeFlight Rescue choppers perform simultaneous ship rescues

The man was working on board the dry bulk carrier, which was at anchor approximately 10 kilometres off the Sunshine Coast, when he was hit in the head by an extremely large, heavy pulley attached to one of the ship’s cranes.

The rescue helicopter flew to the ship’s location, just before 2.30pm this afternoon.

The pilot hovered 5 metres above the cranes, while the Aircrew Officer lowered the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) Flight Paramedic down to the ship.

“The closer we can safely be to the ship, the better it is. The pilot can then position the chopper using the visual reference points on the ship, so he can maintain a safe and stable hover during the winch operation,” said RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Aircrew Officer Scott Reeman.

The patient was assessed and treated by the Flight Paramedic before being strapped into a stretcher and winched up to the helicopter.

The patient, aged in his early twenties, was then airlifted to the Sunshine Coast University Hospital, under the care of the LifeFlight Critical Care Doctor.

As the cargo ship rescue was underway, the Bundaberg-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter was performing a winch rescue from a cruise ship.  

The chopper hovered around 8 metres above the upper deck of the Pacific Dawn, to winch a Flight Paramedic and Rescue Crewman down, to assist a teenager suffering a medical condition.

“Winch rescues at sea are all different. We have to have a plan. It’s challenging, but we are highly trained for these sorts of operations. There has to be good communication within the crew and also with the ship. The Pacific Dawn crew were all very professional,” said RACQ LifeFlight Aircrew Officer Chris Jowsey.

The chopper landed on nearby Heron Island, while the teenager was assessed, before returning to winch the RACQ LifeFlight crew members and their patient into the helicopter.

The teen was flown back to the mainland in a stable condition.