LifeFlight crews and doctors have given a record number of people a second chance, performing more than 5000 lifesaving missions in the last 12 months, including more than 29 missions in the North West region.
The end of the financial year marked the charity’s busiest year in its 36 year history, with its doctors, community rescue helicopters and Air Ambulance jets performing a record 5252 missions around Queensland and overseas.
The Mount Isa RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter performed 29 missions, an increase of 32 per cent on the previous year.
The missions ranged from primary rescues, where a crew lands at the scene of an incident, to inter-hospital transfers as well as search and rescue missions.
A number of records have fallen at LifeFlight over the past 12 months.
LifeFlight’s Air Ambulance jets have also had their busiest year on record, performing 324 missions across 18 countries, an increase of 32 per cent on the 2015-2016 financial year.
LifeFlight Chairman Rob Borbidge said LifeFlight was proud to continue helping so many in the community by providing a world class aeromedical service.
“The record year pays testament to the growing importance that our aeromedical crews play in Queensland, especially in rural and remote areas, in their lifesaving missions,” Mr Borbidge said.
“We’re proud to have not only our iconic community helicopters but also our Air Ambulance jets, and doctors and nurses in the air, providing urgent medical care to the community. Every time they take off on a mission they’re giving someone a second chance at life.
“Old, young, from the outback or the suburbs; our dedicated crews are focused on giving everyone in Queensland equal access to emergency medical care, regardless of location.”
The most common types of missions in the North West were animal bites/attacks, motor vehicle and motor cycle accidents (on and off road, quad bike and pedestrian) and cardiac conditions.
LifeFlight Chief Operations Officer Brian Guthrie said the record year was due to several factors, including the introduction of three new AW139 rescue helicopters into the fleet.
“The other main factor is that there is an increased community expectation that if you are seriously sick or badly injured you will be airlifted to a hospital or transferred to a major tertiary hospital if that’s required,” Mr Guthrie said.
“That’s a product of the partnership between LifeFlight, Queensland Health and the tasking authority, Retrieval Services Queensland, who are all totally committed to providing a world class aeromedical service.”
LifeFlight anticipates its presence in the North West to grow further following an additional $2.4 million funding commitment from the Palaszczuk Government.
The funding will allow the charity to introduce a better, faster helicopter which will potentially double the lifesaving capability.
The current twin-engine Bell 230 will soon be replaced by a twin-engine BK117 which offers a better medical platform, improves speed and range and allows for two patients to be transported in most situations.
With every helicopter mission costing on average $12,500, LifeFlight continues to rely on the support of partners, including major partner RACQ, along with the donations and support of Queenslanders around the state.
“The work of the dedicated helicopter rescue crews can literally mean the difference between life and death and we congratulate RACQ LifeFlight Rescue on its record year,” RACQ spokesperson Lauren Ritchie said.
LifeFlight started the new financial year by announcing the formation of the LifeFlight Foundation, whose core purpose is to fund and support the efforts of LifeFlight Australia’s aeromedical services.
The LifeFlight Foundation is comprised of the same team of experienced people as before, but with a structure that will maximise funding to support the growing needs of the organisation.
The LifeFlight Foundation still relies on communities to help raise nearly 30 per cent of operating costs for the iconic RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter service.