CHC helicopter SAR team win Commendation Award

In Australia, CHC Group has announced that a pilot and aircrew of Rescue 651 have been recognised with a Commendation Award at the National SAR Awards in Canberra.

The award commends the crew, along with a St John Ambulance paramedic, for the rescue of a 27-year-old man with a broken leg from the vessel Fatal Attraction near Israelite Bay, Western Australia, on 6 November 2016. In high winds and heavy swell, pilot Craig Bowman, aircrew Garth Fitzgerald and critical care paramedic Ben Harris retrieved the injured fisherman using a winch transfer from the vessel, which was off the southern coast of Western Australia, some 800 km (500 miles) from the crew’s Jandakot base in Perth.

The crew, who are part of the team that operate Western Australia’s rescue helicopter service on behalf of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, were tasked with the rescue at just after 14:30 hrs on the afternoon of 6 November, and reached the vessel at 18:30 hrs. The crew had about 10 minutes before last light to winch Harris onto the vessel, splint the injured man’s leg and winch Harris and the patient back onto the Bell 412 helicopter. With refuel ground support assistance from Esperance Volunteer Marine Service, and SES volunteers and DFES personnel, RAC Rescue Helicopter 651 then flew using night vision equipment to get the man back to Esperance and transfer him to a Royal Flying Doctor Service plane for onward flight to Royal Perth Hospital.

“We are thrilled that our dedicated and experienced crew, in conjunction with St John Ambulance, have been recognised with a national award from NATSAR Council,” said Vincent D’Rozario, regional director, CHC Asia Pacific. “Not a day goes by when there aren’t incredible SAR operations all over the world that fly under the radar. Our crews have saved so many lives and we are thankful to the NATSAR Council for holding these awards to acknowledge the terrific work that is done by search and rescue teams every day.

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