Fly Back Facts | 2008

An Aussie staple, the humble esky, was the saviour of three mates rescued off the Central Queensland coast after their boat sank during July. Just after 7 pm the trio’s boat began to sink eight nautical miles south-east of Flat Island. One of them managed to call Triple Zero and raise the alarm but the boat went down in just 30 seconds.

The three fishermen then spent 15 hours in the water after a search through the night failed to find any sign of them as their families feared the worst. After swimming 22 km relying on the esky, the men were found and winched to safety by CapRescue the following day.

From his hospital bed in Rockhampton, 26-year-old Tony Minns said it was a fishing adventure gone horribly wrong.

“We had the esky and figured out there was no bung in it so I had to stick my finger into it, and we couldn’t pull my finger out because there was bait in it and we were scared it would attract sharks,” he said.

Mr Minns said the trio were desperate not to fall asleep.

“We just kept each other company by talking and singing songs and, yeah, we had to push some people to stay awake.”

The men suffered mild hypothermia but were able to walk from the aircraft and be reunited with their families. Today the trio still share their story of mateship, survival and unwavering support of CapRescue.

Like the remarkable rescue above, some of the most challenging tasks for CapRescue since its inception have involved rescuing patients from vessels at sea, especially during unpredictable weather. In September, CapRescue airlifted a sailor on board the Eastern Voyager, located north of Heron Island. The patient had suffered a heart attack and required immediate medical treatment. Due to poor conditions at the time, the crew landed in Gladstone and awaited first light prior to locating the vessel. At 6 am, a rescue crewman, an intensive care paramedic and a stretcher were winched down to the vessel’s deck. The patient was safely retrieved and transported to hospital for further treatment.

During 2008, CapRescue welcomed national television host Adam Cox to the hangar to film a segment for the popular Australian children’s television series Totally Wild. An informative children’s news program, Totally Wild reported on the importance of the rescue helicopter network within the community. Adam spoke to crew member Vincent Corcoran about the complexity of a search and rescue mission, how the crew prepared for a task and the equipment required on board the aircraft. Vincent and crewman Nathan Triffett took Adam and the film crew on a flight to Great Keppel Island. It was a great opportunity for CapRescue, with the episode being aired nationwide.

By the end of 2008, the crew had clocked up 351 hours and rescued 217 patients from various locations across the region.

Image: 2008
CapRescue’s first twin engine IFR aircraft – the Dauphin, at the scene of an accident on Inverness Station