“Water winching is the skill we need to practise the most,” Chief Aircrew Officer Simon Gray, said. “This is really important training for us; it means we can go out and save people in the water.”
Rescue crews braved winter temperatures to complete annual water rescue training, in conjunction with Queensland Police Service’s (QPS) on its Sunshine Coast-based boat. “At the end of the day, we want winching to be our last resort but, obviously, we need to be prepared to do it,” Gray added.
The exercise aims to ensure RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crews are always ready to respond to rescues and emergencies on the water. RACQ LifeFlight Rescue pilot, Brent Hall, said the exercise is very important in keeping the community safe.
“Emergency services always work together, so it’s great to be able to do our training with the police and make sure they understand our techniques and we understand theirs.”
Training multiple winching scenarios
Five rescue pilots, three aircrew officers and three rescue swimmers completed several training scenarios, including dropping a life raft, winching people to and from the ocean and winching an RACQ LifeFlight Rescue swimmer, to and from the back of the QPS vessel. “On training days, like this, you’ve got the aircraft moving, the boat moving and you’re trying to get a person – our aircrew office – on the back of a small boat deck,” Hall said. “It is difficult but with great teamwork, we’re able to achieve good training outcomes in a nice, safe way.”
The Land Rover LifeFlight Special Mission helicopter performed this training exercise as it is currently temporarily based on the Sunshine Coast, while the familiar blue and yellow RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter undergoes scheduled engineering.