The RACQ CQ Rescue chopper. Picture: RACQ CQ Rescue
The RACQ CQ Rescue chopper. Picture: RACQ CQ Rescue

Jet to ease ‘ambulance runs’ burden on rescue service: Mayor

A community-funded rescue service is increasingly being called on to do "ambulance runs" between Mackay and Townsville, with the jobs being tasked from Brisbane.

Queensland Health's arrangement has prompted calls for it to approve the addition of a small fixed wing aircraft to RACQ CQ Rescue's fleet so it can continue to focus on lifesaving tasks.

RACQ CQ rescue board member and Mackay Mayor Greg Williamson said the majority of the costs associated with the service came from inter-facility transfers.

Queensland Health funds the service to transfer sick patients from rural and remote hospitals to Mackay or Townsville - this is known as an inter-facility transfer or IFT.

Cr Williamson said the state was responsible for allocating these missions.

"The majority of hours, the majority of costs associated with RACQ CQ Rescue is from IFTs," he said.

"If our helicopter is doing an IFT to Townsville and suddenly there's an accident on the Bruce Highway or the Peak Downs Highway, our helicopter is an hour and a half way.

"What happens then is Brisbane will task an airplane out of Rockhampton to get to that task which our helicopter could have serviced if it was not doing just an ambulance run."

Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson. Picture: Heidi Petith
Mackay Regional Council Mayor Greg Williamson. Picture: Heidi Petith

 

Cr Williamson said the addition of small fixed wing aircraft could be funded through the community and would halve the time and money spent on IFTs.

He said despite meetings with senior health officials and then-Health Minister Steven Miles last year, the request had hit a brick wall.

RACQ CQ Rescue board chairman Chris Wright said the fixed-wing aircraft would be a logical addition to help the service extend its reach to more patients in more communities.

"We can achieve superior patient care with a fixed wing aircraft which would be better able to respond to hospital transfers, complementing the helicopter service," Mr Wright said.

"This would enable the rescue helicopter to be available to respond to specific primary emergency rescue taskings."

Mr Wright said IFTs often involved patients who had suffered a stroke, cardiac, neurological and other life-threatening conditions which required urgent medical care and intervention.

"IFTs are a large and critically important component of the work we do each year as are primary missions and search and rescue missions," he said.

"To lease, mobilise and operate a dedicated fixed wing service, RACQ CQ Rescue would require the continued support of the State Government, the community and existing supporters."

The RACQ CQ rescue helicopter. Picture: RACQ CQ Rescue
The RACQ CQ rescue helicopter. Picture: RACQ CQ Rescue

More stories:

Mackay shoppers raise $6.5k for children's hospice

Lifesaving Mackay suicide prevention charity recognised

Lifeline extended to VMR during record-breaking year

A Queensland Health spokeswoman said the Royal Flying Doctor Service already performed emergency aeromedical retrievals in the Mackay region.

"Our review of aeromedical activity in the region shows there is currently sufficient capacity to respond to emergencies," she said.

"Should future demand warrant an additional fixed wing aircraft, a suitable operator would be selected through an appropriate procurement process."

Cr Williamson said the solution presented to the State Government was a "no-brainer" and he had not received any reason as to why it was being knocked back.

"Imagine if our community didn't have to raise $5 million a year, we only had to raise $3 million? It just makes the whole thing more secure," he said.

Subscriber benefits:

How to activate your free Courier-Mail subscription

How to get Daily Mercury news straight to your inbox

Your dose of Harry Bruce cartoons



SEE PICS: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s Bundy visit

Premium Content SEE PICS: Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip’s Bundy visit

After the passing of the Duke of Edinburgh, the NewsMail takes a look back at when...

Hinkler MP issues statement on Prince Philip’s passing

Premium Content Hinkler MP issues statement on Prince Philip’s passing

Federal Minister for Hinkler Keith Pitt has passed on his condolences to Queen...

Replay: Recap all the action from day 2 of U15 hockey champs

Premium Content Replay: Recap all the action from day 2 of U15 hockey champs

The best young hockey stars were back in action