Like every year, 2013 was busy with CapRescue conducting ongoing flight training for our pilots, air crewmen, rescue crewmen and paramedics. Searching for an opportunity for the crew to apply these skills in a real-life scenario led to our involvement with the Emu Park Surf Life Saving Club. Together, we performed a joint water winching operation and enactment of a patient with chest pain in clear view of the public assembled on Emu Park beach. The demonstration attracted over 200 people, with the helicopter shutting down for a short period to provide the community with the opportunity to have a closer look at our Bell 412EP rescue helicopter and speak with the crew.
Our small team of dedicated volunteers successfully raised over $50,000 throughout 2013 by hosting a variety of fundraising activities. These included raffles, sausage sizzles, catering, and attending events within the community, for example the Paradise Lagoons Campdraft. Despite the devastating floods at the beginning of 2013, the local community continued to support the service. Many donations from clubs and community groups, consistent corporate sponsorship and payroll deductions through our Target 10,000 workplace giving program were received.
It was a busy time for the board as well as they sought and obtained pricing proposals from various helicopter providers for the provision of operations for the next five years. After careful consideration of various criteria including service delivery, safety and costs, the board selected Australian Helicopters as our preferred supplier. The company was, and still is, a significant player in the emergency medical and rescue service industry. Operating a number of services on behalf of the Australian and some State Governments. This agreement facilitated the acquisition of a more modern aircraft in the form of a Bell 412EP. A contract was entered into with Australian Helicopters for a four-year period commencing 1 July 2013. They are still our supplier to this day, having rebranded to Babcock Mission Critical Services Australasia in 2014.
This year put the skills of the CapRescue crew to the test as they were faced with some of the toughest rescues experienced by the service. In addition to making international news during the Biloela floods in January, our service would soon be in the spotlight again. Performing lifesaving surgery on the kitchen floor of a homestead just outside Duaringa. What started out as any other day for Tania Cowie, soon turned into one of the worst of her life. After being suddenly thrown from her horse in May, Tania suffered three broken ribs and a punctured lung.
“My lung had collapsed and was suffocating my heart … my heart stopped. I was clinically dead,” Tania Cowie explained.
Our medical crew spent over three hours stabilising Tania on her kitchen floor, before airlifting her back to the Rockhampton Hospital. Since the accident, Tania has made a full recovery and believes that for the people of Central Queensland there is no other option:
“If we didn’t have CapRescue, I wouldn’t be here, nor would a lot of other people”.
The crew went on to complete 315 missions across Central Queensland with a grand total of 480 hours spent in the air.
Nancy Essex can be seen clinging to the door of her submerged vehicle as the CapRescue crewman was lowered down to winch her to safety.