Set to be the year of growth and opportunity, 2017 did not disappoint. Construction on our $5 million hangar project began after the service received $2.34 million from the Australian Government through round two of the National Stronger Regions Fund in late 2015 and a further $1.4 million from the Queensland Government in early 2016. The shortfall of $1.2 million to complete the fit-out and purchase essential items such as the fuel facility was funded by major sponsors and the community.
With Hutchinson Builders appointed, the project was completed with Australian-made materials and created 85 local employment opportunities, ensuring the maximum economic benefit flowed on to the community that supports our rescue service.
The hangar now securely stores our primary and back-up rescue helicopters, provides acceptable working and sleeping accommodation for pilots and crew that are on call as well as working accommodation for QAS paramedics and doctors. It includes modern engineering facilities, an administration area and goes a long way to ensuring the service is always available to the people who need it.
Also during 2017, a newly developed program focusing on creating stronger, connected communities through the engagement of volunteers was launched. The Step Up CapRescue Volunteers program secured naming rights partner Thiess after they recognised the value that volunteers bring to both the community and our service. Signing on for an additional three years in 2020, Thiess continues to support our service and volunteer program, helping to keep the people in our community safe.
In addition to cyclone Debbie, sadly the crew were kept busy across the whole year, attending 377 tasks and clocking up 584 flying hours across Central Queensland; including the rescue of a father and his two children. The family left Mulambin Beach on their 14 ft catamaran at approximately 1.30 pm Friday 13 January, planning to be back later that evening. However, when they failed to return, a long two-day search was conducted by numerous emergency services to find the family. With a broken mast, the catamaran had drifted into rocks at Divided Island, where the trio was spotted by our crew. The catamaran was retrieved and taken back to shore. The Coast Guard commenting on the state of the boat, including the lack of emergency beacon and it was beginning to sink as it was being towed. The family was winched to safety and transported by CapRescue to Rockhampton Hospital in a stable condition with minor injuries.
A Tannum Sands man was airlifted from the scene of a motor vehicle accident North of Middlemount in September.