Record year for Townsville jet fleet

Almost three hundred and fifty people received lifesaving care from Townsville’s RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Air Ambulance jet crew in 2020 – the most patients in the service’s 12 year history.

“We continue to see a significant increase in activity for our Townsville jet operation. In 2019, we saw 233 people helped by the service, and in the past year we’ve seen that figure jump to 341,” said LifeFlight Commercial Director Tim McGuire. 

“That’s almost a 50% increase from 2019.”  

In 2020, RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Air Ambulance jets completed 486 critical missions, of these, 341 were undertaken by the Townsville-based service.

“Townsville has become a lot busier, it means that we do a lot of the long distance, high acuity jobs,” RACQ LifeFlight Recue Flight Nurse Michelle Black said. 

In the past year LifeFlight’s jet fleet underwent a major expansion, adding three Challenger 604 aircraft to its fleet. 

“The Challenger 604 aircraft is the longest-range aeromedical jet available for immediate emergency deployment in Australia,” RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Air Ambulance Pilot Anthony McKenna said.

“The aircraft can fly to regional areas across Queensland and bring those people who may need a higher level of medical care, to the major centres such as Townsville, Cairns, Mackay and Brisbane. “

The aeromedical fleet was also heavily involved in the Queensland Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Three RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Air Ambulance jets were exclusively on standby, if needed, to airlift suspected or confirmed coronavirus and other patients, from Queensland regional centres, under a specialised agreement with the State Government,” Mr McGuire said

Despite the devastation of a global pandemic, RACQ LifeFlight Rescue’s Air Ambulance jets continued to provide world-class aeromedical care to those in need, across Queensland and around the world. 

“Only two months ago, we marked Neonatal November by inviting a number of our youngest patients into our Townsville base and reunited them and their families with the crew who airlifted them,” Mr McKenna said.

One of the most high-profile missions in 2020, was the tasking of the two Townsville jets, as part of the aeromedical fleet which airlifted injured workers after an explosion at a Moranbah mine.

 “It means a lot to us in Townsville, to provide this service and to know that we are making a difference, helping save and change lives,” Mr McKenna said.