It is not uncommon for our service to be tasked to several vessels off the coast of Central Queensland each year to retrieve patients who have suffered an injury while on board or who have underlying conditions that require urgent medical attention. In January, CapRescue was tasked to the yacht Ocean Whisper to retrieve a patient who had lost balance and severely hit his head. The rescue crewman boarded the vessel and promptly winched the patient into the helicopter.
Just three days later, the CapRescue crew were tasked to another vessel, Caloundra, off the coast of Cape Capricorn to attend to a 60-year-old patient with a known cardiac condition who was experiencing heart issues. Due to the location and size of Caloundra, our rescue crewman was carefully winched to the water at a safe distance, enabling him to swim the rest of the way to the vessel. The CapRescue helicopter landed on the beach near the estuary to await the arrival of the patient and safely airlift him to Rockhampton.
During July, yet another winch retrieval from a vessel occurred. Rescue crewman Jake Moore retrieved a patient with a mysterious bacterial infection from a coal carrier off the coast of Gladstone. As our helicopter approached the vessel, the crew were informed they could not land on the carrier, and instead had to reconfigure the aircraft ready to winch the patient on board. Although a riskier mission, the crew quickly adapted to the situation, considering all factors including the weather, wind, terrain and obstructions. The patient was safely winched into the aircraft and flown to hospital to receive further treatment.
As it turns out, July ended up being the busiest month for CapRescue in 11 years, with the crew clocking up over 73 hours and completing 38 rescues; contributing to a total of 464 hours and 315 rescues for the year.
Working hard behind the scenes, after considerable negotiation the board and management were able to sign off on a Deed of Agreement with the Department of Emergency Services. This agreement secured funding and operational structure for the service for five years. From this agreement, a contract with Jayrow Helicopters Pty Ltd. was signed to provide a helicopter and crew for the same five-year period. Within these negotiations, the employment of the rescue crew was moved entirely to Jayrow Helicopters, and several of the Jayrow crew members are still with the service today.
July 2007 was the busiest month in 11 years for the CapRescue crew.