After the devastating and tragic loss in 2000, the community rallied together to raise over $200,000 in five short months to help with the purchase of a new helicopter. On 1 February, CapRescue took ownership of its own helicopter, a Bell 407 known as Sheila that proved to exceed expectations. Unfortunately, on 28 April, shortly after dispatching a life raft to a distressed sailor on Swains Reef, Sheila tragically plunged into the ocean. Thankfully, there were no casualties. Soon after survivor and pilot Mick Reynolds was employed full-time by CapRescue.
Thousands of Central Queenslanders attended the Tandem Thrust 2001 Open Day on Sunday 13 May at the recently opened CapRescue hangar. The Australian Army and United States Marine Corps joined forces, allowing the community to get up close and personal with various military aircraft and vehicles. While entry was free, the community dug deep, raising an amazing $10,000 for CapRescue throughout the day.
In June, following six months of negotiations, RACQ officially became the naming rights partner of CapRescue. The partnership provided a very welcome financial boost, safeguarding the service’s future and allowing additional resources to be secured. Shortly after the deal with RACQ was signed, CapRescue took delivery of our first aircraft in full RACQ livery—a Eurocopter AS350 affectionately known as Rescue300. Its legacy still lives on today with all CapRescue helicopters since the AS350 adopting the Rescue300 call sign.
During this year, a horror crash between a car and a bus on the Bruce Highway north of Marlborough left 35 passengers either shaken or hurt, with one critically injured. A tyre on a Ford station wagon travelling north exploded, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle. The car ran into the south-bound lane, crashing into a chartered coach carrying four netball teams from Boyne Island. The bus veered off the road, travelled through a two-metre-deep gully and came to a stop in bushland—thankfully avoiding several trees. Most of the bus’s passengers were badly shaken and lucky to escape with just bruising and minor injuries. A male occupant of the car sustained serious head injuries and was unconscious when airlifted to Rockhampton by CapRescue. Two further patients from the station wagon were also transported by air, this time to Mackay. Finally, a fourth passenger from the vehicle, along with four netballers, travelled by road to Rockhampton for treatment. This is just one of the many road accidents CapRescue attended in 2001.
The first Rescue300 helicopter at the scene of an accident.