2023 a record year for Lifeflight chopper rescue service

February 1, 2024 9:12 am in by
Lifeflight performed a rescue when this plane landed in a back yard

The Sunshine Coast RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter crew helped 557 people in the past 12 months which represents a 31 per cent increase on the previous year.

The crew notched more than 900 hours in the air and attended a wide range of incidents, including motor vehicle accidents, airlifting patients from incidents on rural properties and search and rescues.

They came to the aid of two separate light aircraft incidents as part of a busy year for Queensland’s leading aeromedical organisation.

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A rock climber was winched to safety after he fell 20 metres down Mt Tibrogargan. The pilot had to delicately position the chopper on the side of the mountain and winch a Critical Care Doctor and Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) Flight Paramedic down to the patient.

A rock climber winched to safety when he fell 20 metres on Mt Tibrogargan

Rescue crews were quickly on the scene when a light plane crash landed and cartwheeled in a residential backyard, while two men were rescued when the plane they were flying in ditched into the ocean off Mooloolaba.

Two men were rescued when their light plane ditched off Mooloolaba

In November, the Sunshine Coast crew airlifted an elderly lady who was impaled in the neck with a garden stake. In a carefully calculated mission with critical care medical teams, the stake had to be sawn off so she could fit in the chopper.

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In other incidents, a girl was thrown from her horse and a boy was trampled by a bull.

LifeFlight Australia Chief Operations Officer Lee Schofield, said the diverse nature of the rescues demonstrated the importance of the service and its impact on communities across the Sunshine Coast.

“The complexity of the missions just goes to show how indispensable LifeFlight’s aeromedical service is on the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

“Often our crews are called on in the middle of the night to airlift patients in remote and precarious places and transport them safely to hospitals.

“The agility of our helicopters enables LifeFlight to access places that other cannot get to and that was certainly the case with the winch rescue on the side of the mountain at Mt Tibrogargan.

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“I am incredibly proud of our staff and their efforts to deliver world class emergency care and I thank them for their work in what has been a record year of activity for the organisation.”

LifeFlight’s fleet of four Air Ambulance jets and nine rotary wing aircraft operates from eight Queensland bases and is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, directly servicing an area of 1.85 million square kilometres.

It supports search and rescue efforts across 53 million square kilometres of land and sea for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.

RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crews across the state performed 2851 missions – a 28 per cent increase on the previous year total of 2223. The majority of missions were actioned on behalf of Queensland Health, with male patients making up 62 per cent.

The Sunshine Coast crew contributed to a record calendar year for LifeFlight Australia as a whole, with the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue and LifeFlight Surat Gas Aeromedical Service (SGAS) helicopters, Air Ambulance jets, Critical Care Doctors, Flight Nurses and QAS Flight Paramedics coming to the aid of 7455 people in 2023 – a 15 per cent increase on the previous year.

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Demand for services has resulted in a new LifeFlight hangar to be built later this year at the Aerospace Precinct at Sunshine Coast Airport following $18 million in state government funding. The site will include a visitor centre for the public.

The Sunshine Coast community will come together on Saturday April 20 at the Novotel Convention Centre to support the annual LifeFlight Gala. Last year the generosity of the Sunshine Coast community raised more than $250,000.

While 2023 proved a remarkable year, another major milestone will be realised in December when LifeFlight Australia celebrates 45 years of service. It will coincide with a 30-year partnership with naming rights sponsor RACQ.                                                              

“We’re immensely proud to support an organisation that saves so many lives and has such a positive impact on the communities it serves,” said RACQ’s Lauren Cooney.

“The reason Australia’s biggest emergency aeromedical provider and RACQ became partners hasn’t changed in three decades. We share a passion and a commitment for safety and saving lives.”

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Since its inception 44 years ago LifeFlight Australia has helped rescue more than 81,000 people.

The service is funded by a combination of a service agreement with the Queensland Government, community fundraising, the sponsorship of RACQ and profit-for-purpose enterprises.




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