2016 marked the 20th operational year of CapRescue. In 20 years, the crew grew from two pilots and nine volunteer paramedic/crewmen to four pilots, four air crewmen, two rescue crewmen and one engineer. The onboard crew increased from a pilot and paramedic/crewman to a pilot, air crewman, rescue crewman, paramedic and doctor when required. The growth of our crew, staff, and population within the region meant the CapRescue hangar required an expansion to meet the increasing demands of our service.
In January, the Queensland Government committed a further $1.4 million towards the construction of our new hangar facility. The additional funding allowed construction to begin with the symbolic moment captured on 6 December, as Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne and Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry took part in the turning of the sod. The construction of the new hangar was officially underway.
The crew completed the service’s 6,000th rescue in March and continued to deliver the high level, vital service this new facility would underpin. This milestone mission took place on a gas tanker off Gladstone on Saturday 12 March. The weekend had been demanding on the crew, with five missions and a total of 725 nautical miles flown. The patient, a 43-year-old Indian national suffering severe cramping, was winched to safety and transported for further treatment.
Throughout the year, the CapRescue crew flew a total of 385 hours and were tasked to 349 rescues, some of which were a bit out of the ordinary, such as rescuing a man left stranded on Townshend Island for four days after a crocodile sank its teeth into his kayak. He was located and retrieved after AMSA detected his distress beacon. The stranded man had purchased his emergency beacon for a planned trip from Yeppoon to Stanage Bay. Although not registered, AMSA said it was vital to the man’s rescue.
Chairman Adrian de Groot, Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne, CEO Mark Fewtrell and Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry at the sod turning for the new hangar.