RACQ feels impact of Covid-19 on its resources

RACQ Rescue

The Covid-19 outbreak is creating a set of challenges for the Royal Automobile Club Queensland (RACQ) helicopter service, including an impact on resources, finances and long-term capacity to serve the community

The Central and North Queensland region’s rescue helicopter service is particularly feeling the pinch as it has to simultaneously adjust work environments, procedures and policies to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their crew and juggle the increased demand for their services.

RACQ has had to cancel multiple key fundraisers, which exacerbated the situation even further.

Ian Rowan, CEO of RACQ, said: “Our rescue helicopter crew has already completed 130 missions so far this year, and the workload isn’t easing up. Today, our crew have flown a sick patient to Townsville in what is the sixth mission we’ve completed since Wednesday. Our demanding workload continues despite the virus turmoil across the country. We were in fact the first rotary rescue service in Queensland to airlift a suspected coronavirus patient off a bulk carrier earlier this week. It is believed the vessel had been in port in South Korea about 18 days previously, so the helicopter flight crew took Covid-19 precautions and wore personal protective equipment during the flight.”

RACQ is community-funded and heavily reliant on fundraising events. In addition to 50 per cent of its funding coming from the Queensland government, about AU$5 million must be sourced from the community each year to keep the rescue service flying.

“Our intention is to prioritize the best interests of our staff, stakeholders and partners, as well as valued supporters and volunteers, and most importantly, ensure the continued availability of our rescue helicopter crew 24/7 across the region,” Rowan said. “Please be assured we will continue to closely monitor the situation and take direction from relevant government officials. For now, it’s business as usual for our crew who are this region’s lifeline and are available to anyone, anywhere at any time in a time of dire need.”