In 2010, CapRescue welcomed three new additions to the service; all aligned with our mission of facilitating the ongoing development and operation of a world class aerial search and rescue service with full aeromedical and counter disaster capabilities in the Central Queensland region. All were put to good use, contributing to the successful completion of 345 hours in the air to perform 232 rescues.
The first to arrive was a new Sikorsky S76 helicopter, which was a more powerful and capable machine than the Dauphin 365N. The benefits of the upgraded aircraft included a more rapid response to tasking, an ability to travel far greater distances without refuelling, and a larger cabin. The new aircraft comfortably accommodated two stretchers, could carry more equipment, was more stable for winching and was generally a much quieter and more comfortable ride for both the crew and patients.
Its arrival attracted a lot of attention within the community. A young volunteer, David, who regularly assisted with administration duties at the CapRescue hangar, displayed a keen interest. So much so that David soon discovered his talent for sketching by taking only a few moments to draw the Sikorsky S76. Interest continued to mount as the aircraft made many appearances around the region in the coming months, both on rescues and for promotional purposes, including a visit to the Emerald Show in June, where it touched down in the main arena as the community looked on.
The Sikorsky S76 was put to the test in February after a couple was reported missing in flood waters in Longreach. The crew was on the scene 45 minutes earlier than they would have been previously as the need to refuel in Emerald was eliminated. The total flight from Rockhampton to Longreach was reduced to just two and a half hours! Similarly, a trip to Biloela was reduced to just 25 minutes each way—proven after a three-year-old girl required urgent transport to Rockhampton.
The Boyne Tannum HookUp Committee also added to our fleet in June by generously donating a new Mazda 6. CapRescue was chosen as the 2010 beneficiary for the monster fishing competition, which attracted thousands of visitors from far and wide to compete for a total prize pool of over $250,000. The Mazda 6 was a great addition, with both staff and volunteers using the car to attend community events, visit sponsors, attend cheque presentations, and perform day-to-day office duties.
The last addition to the service for the year was the arrival of night vision goggles (NVGs). As a result of our board’s foresight and under their guidance, CapRescue become the first community-based helicopter rescue service in Queensland to introduce state-of-the-art NVGs as a standard piece of equipment. Our crew were often engaged in night operations, so with the promise of increased efficiency and an improvement to their safety in a night environment, the board approved the purchase of three sets of NVGs at a total cost of $90,000. In 2013, the Queensland Government provided funding for all community-based helicopter providers from Mackay to the New South Wales border to equip themselves with NVGs—CapRescue was three years ahead of the standard!
The arrival of the Sikorsky S76 helicopter attracted a lot of attention within the community.