The CapRescue crew was in high demand during 2011; beginning in January and finishing the year with a total of 331 rescues and 507 hours in flight. Our fuel bill and flying hours tripled in January, with the service performing up to six jobs per day including rescues, medical transfers, evacuations and some flood relief. It was the first year that the crew had flown over 500 hours in a 12-month period.
The region witnessed record flooding in January, resulting in the closure of the Rockhampton Airport and the Rockhampton RFDS base. CapRescue was fully operational and the only lifeline out of Rockhampton for many patients requiring critical care in Brisbane. Our helicopter and crew ferried patients from Rockhampton to an awaiting RFDS plane in regional towns such as Emerald, Gladstone and Thangool for transport to Brisbane. With flooded roads and rail lines cut and damaged, rescue attempts and transport were taken to the air.
In early April, the crew were once again kept busy with three missions to attend on the same day. The first, transporting a 27-year-old man from Moura following a car accident, where he had sustained a dislocated shoulder, was experiencing abdominal pain and had a suspected neck injury. CapRescue was then tasked to a rural property in Marlborough to airlift a man who had fallen from his horse. The helicopter landed adjacent to the homestead and following treatment from the onboard medical crew, the patient was transported to Rockhampton. The third rescue involved a 67-year-old man who had also sustained injuries from a horse fall on a rural property near Gogango. With the assistance of NVGs and a landing zone set up by the QAS paramedic on the ground using portable single lights, the helicopter landed at the property. Upon landing, the medical crew assessed and stabilised the patient, who was then flown to the Rockhampton Hospital for further treatment.
A tragic accident, which unfortunately claimed two lives, left the CapRescue crew in shock after a six-seater Eurocopter AS350 Squirrel helicopter engaged in routine maintenance crashed in dense woodland within the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in September. The aircraft landed upside down at the base of a steep embankment on Double Mountain. Our crew winched rescuers to the ground to begin the grim and difficult task to recover the two bodies from the wreckage. The crew expressed that it was the worst accident they had attended in years and were amazed at the sole survivor’s condition considering the horrendous wreckage they witnessed from the air.
The crew were sent on a costly and unnecessary mission for their 500th hour as they searched for a falsely activated beacon in Yeppoon during late December. The task reaffirmed the need for beacons and EPIRBs to be used and disposed of appropriately.
Behind the scenes, our dedicated team of volunteers continued to work on their own fundraisers as well as assisting community organisations with their hugely successful events across the region.
After realising that 2011 was shaping up to be a significant year, CapRescue joined the world of social media in June, creating a Facebook page to showcase the service’s rescues, fundraisers and involvement with the community. Interest in the service soon skyrocketed online and today still continues at a steady pace despite already reaching over 14,000* followers on Facebook alone.
*as at September 2021
A 47 year old man on Ducabrook Creek Station was airlifted by CapRescue.