RACQ LifeFlight rescuers take to the ocean for water winching

The Sunshine Coast RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crew have undergone crucial winch training off the coastline, to ensure they’re always ready to respond to rescues and emergencies on the water.

“It’s a skill that we need to keep proficient at, because it is probably the hardest thing that we do,” RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Chief Aircrew Officer, Simon Gray, said.

Crew members took part in a number of exercises, including being winched down to the new Queensland Police Service vessel, which arrived on the Sunshine Coast earlier this year. 

Mr Gray said the new QPS boat made training easier, as it’s a bigger vessel than those which have been used in the past. 

“The more interaction we can have with these organisations, the better off everyone is.”

The crew also practised being winched to a life raft in the ocean before being winched directly into the water, to rescue a dummy. 

RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Training and Checking Aircrew Officer, Tony Preston, said the training is vital for keeping the crew’s high-level skills up to date. 

“As you can imagine, when you’re in the water, it’s very difficult to control everything.

“Every moment counts in these sort of situations and we try to be as efficient and quick as we can, but our main focus is safety.”

The Sunshine Coast RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter can be called to a variety of missions off the coastline at anytime, including search and rescue operations and winching sick or injured passengers from ships. 

The chopper has been involved in nine water-based missions in 2019 so far, including one in April, where an injured man was winched from a cargo ship, off Maroochydore.