On 4 September, our crew carried out the first training flights atop the newly constructed Rockhampton Hospital Rooftop Helipad: a $5 million project funded by Central Queensland Hospital and Health Service following a surplus in their 2012–13 budget. The project replaced the decommissioned community-funded ground-level helipad built in 2003, once again enabling our service to directly transfer critically ill patients from our helicopter to the hospital’s emergency department. The benefits of the project continue today and include savings of approximately $1000 per rescue, eliminating the need for QAS paramedics to transfer patients from the airport to the hospital, saving valuable minutes in getting critical care to the patients on board.
The first patient to touch down on the new rooftop helipad was a 30-year-old man from Zilzie. He was handed over to waiting hospital staff at 2:58 pm on 22 September. The patient was airlifted to Rockhampton in a stable condition with a suspected sting ray-related injury to his lower left leg. Sustained while walking into the water to throw a net in Corio Bay during a fishing trip with his brother. The accessibility of the rooftop helipad resulted in a direct and timely patient transfer and proved to be a significant improvement on the previous road transport method.
Requiring funding for a major project ourselves, we took a giant leap of faith and dabbled in crowdfunding. A call went out to the community to help us raise $10,000 for the purchase of two intermediate bulk containers (IBCs). Local community groups, together with many individuals, dug deep and donated a grand total of $14,816 towards the ‘We Need a Tank or Two’ campaign. The funds allowed for the immediate purchase of two IBCs for Heron Island and Rolleston, and kickstarted funding towards a third for Emerald. The Emerald IBC was funded and installed shortly after, with all three improving the range of our Bell 412EP helicopters into areas such as Carnarvon Gorge and Swains Reef. For more than 15 years and still to this day, drum fuel has been stored and looked after by The Plum Tree Store and The Stanage Township Organisation in Stanage Bay.
CapRescue thanks The Plum Tree Store, The Stanage Township Organisation and all who contributed towards our IBC campaign, especially Comanche Cattle Company and the Gladstone and District 4WD Club, who each funded an entire IBC.
With the community backing us, the CapRescue crew flew almost 500 hours and carried out 308 rescues during 2015.
Image: The Bell412 landing atop the new helipad on the Rockhampton Base Hospital.