RACQ CapRescue Reflects on 2021

Rescue300 launched into 2021 by performing back-to-back rescues between New Year’s Eve and the morning of January 1st. This kickstarted a momentous year for RACQ CapRescue. A year that was set to commemorate and continue John Bavea’s dream from 25 years ago – to have a service to keep the people of Central Queensland safe. The crew certainly didn’t disappoint, clocking up an incredible 638 hours across a massive 455 rescues.

The year was celebrated in several ways, but most significantly with the arrival of the modern and more capable AgustaWestland 139 (AW139) helicopter to the Rescue300 fleet.

“Many milestones have been achieved across our 25 years of operations, the arrival of the AW139 marks yet another.
“The upgrade in aircraft is essential to keep up with the increasing demand of the service, improvements to safety and a reduction in transit time, as well as other benefits that come from the advancements in technology.” Mr Fewtrell said.

As expected, since coming online in July 2021, the capabilities of the Service have significantly increased by allowing travel further afield at a much quicker speed. The crew have on numerous occasions already flown patients directly to Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, Sunshine Coast and Brisbane.

One weekend in August demonstrated the benefits of the AW139 and reaffirmed our purpose, that a region this big, needs a fast response.

On Friday August 6th, the helicopter touched down in Bundaberg with a 31-year-old female on board. The woman was transferred from Gladstone to Bundaberg in a serious but stable condition.

On Saturday the 7th a 7-year-old girl holidaying on Heron Island with her family was airlifted after falling approximately four meters. She was sitting on the edge of the wharf when she fell, causing grazing injuries to her legs and suspected spinal injuries.

The crew receive an early morning call from Queensland Health on Sunday 8th, requesting they head west to Emerald to collect a 20-year-old male who needed urgent treatment in Rockhampton.

Not long after touching down our Rescue300 crew were back in the cabin and tracking towards Mount Archer to winch a fallen rock climber. The man in his 30’s fell around 5 meters before landing on his back and causing suspected spinal injuries.
Although right in our own backyard, the difficulty of the Mount Archer terrain, coupled with the seriousness of the man’s injuries certainly kept our crew on their toes. With the assistance of emergency crews on the ground the man was lifted onto a stretcher and carefully winched aboard in a serious condition.

It certainly was a busy weekend, and one that showed how varied our beautiful region of over 350,000km can be.

We cannot continue this life-saving service without the support of our community and in 2021 we saw our Rescue300 club grow to 125. Each local business donates $1,000 annually, now contributing a combined $125,000 towards RACQ CapRescue and working together to help keep our Service in the air and at no cost to the people of Central Queensland.

One long term Rescue300 member Coxons Group Australia, took a step further to a three-year commitment as the Service’s newest Lift Off Partner.

Mark Ostwald, the National Sales Manager for Coxons Group Australia said that “as a local family-owned business it was very important for Coxons to continue to recognise and contribute back to our local and regional communities. This partnership is a reflection of the Coxons Group values, and we are very excited to execute this new agreement today”.

Local projects also benefited the service with the Rookwood Weir Project also named as a proud Lift Off partner. Queensland Water Minister Glenn Butcher said “Just like the communities of Central Queensland that are built on mateship and supporting each other in times of need, it’s comforting to know that RACQ CapRescue is ready to spring into action when an emergency occurs. Access to medical care is essential to life in regional Queensland, as is access to water.

In 2021 we spread ourselves further into our region with a new event in the Banana Shire.  For the first time we hosted Colour Me Capricorn in three locations, Rockhampton, Gladstone and Biloela. Together, the three events raised over $40,000 thanks to the support received from our event and media sponsors, in-kind sponsors, volunteers, and community members.

Other events that persevered through COVID19 times in 2021 included our community Open Day in Gladstone, our always spectacular Degustation and the CBD Christmas Fair, a much-loved Rockhampton tradition. All helping to fund our lifesaving service that relies on the communities’ support for 40% of our operational costs.

The standout event of the year was the 25th Anniversary Ball held in July. It was a huge success with 370 people in attendance. Guests experienced a special preview of the new AW139 helicopter and had the opportunity to meet the RACQ CapRescue crew, before hearing from past patients and guest speakers. The highlight of the night was the presence and words of John Bavea, the founder of RACQ CapRescue. Thanks to the sponsors and attendees, the event raised over $82,500.

The success of our events in 2021 is also thanks to our StepUp CapRescue Volunteers who contributed over 1230 volunteer hours – our biggest volunteering year to date! Our volunteers not only attended every fundraising event hosted by RACQ CapRescue, but they also lent a hand at multiple fundraising events across the region including the Springsure Working Horse event, Yeppoon Tropical Pinefest, Moura Coal and Country Festival and many more. Their continued generosity is representative of their commitment to CapRescue and their dedication to their community. We cannot thank them enough.