Crocodile attacks and wet weather search and rescues were among the duties performed by the Mount Isa LifeFlight crew in 2022, the aeromedical service's 15th year in the north west.
During that time, the Mount Isa crews were sent to assist 78 people, in critical missions, compared to 64 in 2021.
The aircraft and crew spent 107 hours in the air last year, with the missions costing approximately $1.9 million.
LifeFlight Group Head of Operations Yvette Lutze said the Mount Isa base's busy year was a testament to the importance of the aeromedical service's state-of-the-art capabilities in a remote community.
"It's a long way between your various medical facilities," she said.
"Mount Isa has some world-class medical facilities, but other than that, once you get out of the city, you've got to travel a long way to get to the next one.
"If you do find yourself in a motor vehicle accident for example, or lost or bitten, it's critical that we've got an aircraft that can get to you quickly with the right crew onboard and get you back to a medical facility safely."
Motor vehicle incidents were the most common call-out for the Mount Isa crews, tasked on 11 missions involving people injured in a wide range of crashes, including those involving motorists and motorcyclists, in crashes both on and off road.
There were 10 emergency search operations performed last year, with many involving motorists lost, bogged or trapped by floods on remote roadways.
LifeFlight Australia's fixed-wing aircraft, including jets based in Townsville, logged another successful year flying to the aid of 487 patients, a significant increase on the previous calendar year record of 441 people helped.
RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Air Ambulance operations manager Tyson Smith said most of the transfers contained a critical care doctor and nurse, who responded to anything from stroke patients to newborn babies who needed a higher level of care, to come into a major city for that treatment.
One of those was 13-year-old Riley, who had been seriously injured in a bull-riding incident while practising for the Townsville rodeo season, in February 2022.
Riley had been learning new drills as a rodeo clown when the bull began to charge at him.
In an attempt to get out of the way, Riley ran to jump over the fence and out of the arena but as he grabbed the fence, the bull kicked at him, smashing his hand into the railing and severing his thumb.
Riley and his mum, Christina, were rushed to Townsville Hospital, where it was decided Riley required urgent specialist care in a Brisbane hospital and would need to be flown that same night by the RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Air Ambulance jet.
"The purpose of the Townsville jet is its location and range," Tyson Smith said. "Our crews can get up to the tip of Queensland much faster than if we had to deploy an aircraft from Brisbane."
Later in the year, Riley was able to return to the Townsville base to express his gratitude to the jet crew who helped him in his time of need.
The majority of patients helped by LifeFlight Australia were treated and airlifted in missions that were tasked by Queensland Health.
LifeFlight's jet fleet, based in Brisbane and Townsville, consists of four Challenger 604 aircrafts which are custom-fitted with spectrum stretchers which allows two patients to travel in each aircraft.
Townsville's RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Air Ambulance jet crew helped 266 people, while Brisbane's jet helped 221.
The fixed-wing fleet also rescues and repatriates patients from overseas.
LifeFlight Australia was able to achieve these record results despite COVID-19 impacting staffing levels, aeromedical crew availability and operational capability more in 2022 than any other year of the pandemic.
"Our RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Air Ambulance jets are a vessel to transport patients and also transport our highly skilled medical teams to the patients, both in Queensland and around Australia, but we also have intercontinental capability as well," Mr Smith said.
"So, the same care we deliver in Australia, we can deliver on an international scale and do long distance transfers, because our jets can stay airborne for about seven hours straight, which means we don't have to stop, which is fantastic for patient treatment."
The RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Air Ambulance jets' 2022 rescue record contributes to the aeromedical company's overall record number of total people helped, 6978 in all.
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