That’s an average of nearly two missions a day flying more than 449km for RACQ CQ Rescue’s Bell 412 helicopter to help save lives across Central and North Queensland.
CQ Rescue CEO Ian Rowan said September and October were the service’s busiest months, with 62 and 63 missions completed respectively.
“In 2020, despite the Covid-19 pandemic and challenges this community faced, our helicopter and crew completed an average of 52 missions a month, some tasks taking as long as eight and nine hours and flying hundreds of kilometres to airlift people to urgent medical care from often remote locations,” Rowan said. “Our longest mission in 2020 saw the crew fly a critically ill patient from Dysart to Townsville hospital, a total of more than 960km in just over nine hours.”
SAR missions increased to 26 tasks in 2020
Patients airlifted as a result of injuries from motor vehicle accidents had increased dramatically by 64 per cent since 2019 and search and rescue (SAR) missions increased to 26 tasks completed in 2020 including emergency beacon activations.
The Whitsundays, including Proserpine, Bowen and Collinsville, were the most frequented destinations for RACQ CQ Rescue in 2020, accounting for more than 220 tasks.
Farming accidents including incidents involving horse and cattle had increased, and the helicopter had flown critically ill and injured patients to Townsville on 40 occasions, each trip on average costing about A$32,000.
Fundraising challenges during Covid-19
Rowan said it cost more than $10.5 million annually to keep the helicopter rescue service in the sky and a large proportion of this money came from community donations and sponsorship.
“2020 has certainly presented its challenges in terms of fundraising and operations due to Covid-19, but we are very proud to have maintained such wonderful corporate and community support, which really enables us to fly to the assistance of hundreds of individuals in their moment of dire need and make a difference to so many lives across the region,” he said.
With the rescue chopper’s mission numbers increasing and flying times and distances growing substantially, this was an accurate representation of the ever-growing necessity for such a lifesaving service in this region.
RACQ CQ Rescue has already completed six missions in the first five days of 2021.