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Rescue tally shows importance of LifeFlight Australia operations
Australia-based aeromedical service LifeFlight Australia has notched up another record-breaking calendar year, with its fleet of helicopters and air ambulance jets helping an average of 20 people every day.
LifeFlight’s jet fleet consists of four Challenger 604s, custom-fitted with spectrum stretchers that accommodate two patients for domestic and international flights.

Aeromedical service LifeFlight Australia's fleet of helicopter and air ambulance jets helped a total of 6,978 people in 2022.

Head of operations Yvette Lutze says the total reflects over 20 people helped each day, proving how indispensable the aeromedical service is across the state: "These are not just numbers to us, they’re actually people. It’s someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, son or daughter, and they’re at their most vulnerable. That matters to us. They don’t have a choice in how they’re transported, and it’s up to us to provide them with the critical care they need in the safest possible way. It’s not something that we take lightly here at LifeFlight."

LifeFlight's helicopter fleet accounted for 3,406 mission flying hours. All RACQ LifeFlight Rescue base have aeromedical crews ready to respond 24 hours a day, every day. The Brisbane crew spent Christmas Day airlifting a woman to hospital after she injured her spine in a jet skiing incident at a dam.

RACQ LifeFlight Rescue air ambulance jet crews based in Brisbane and Townsville also achieved a record, coming to the aid of 487 people compared to the previous calendar year total of 441.

"That figure actually means that we transported that many sick or injured patients to a hospital on our RACQ LifeFlight Rescue air ambulance jets," says air ambulance operations manager Tyson Smith. "Most of those transfers did contain our critical care doctor and nurse, who responded to anything from stroke patients to newborn babies who needed a higher level of care to come into a major city for that treatment."

LifeFlight's jet fleet consist of four Challenger 604 aircraft that are custom-fitted with Spectrum stretchers, allowing two patients to travel in each aircraft, both domestically and internationally.

"Our RACQ LifeFlight Rescue air ambulance jets are a vessel to transport patients and also to transport our highly skilled medical teams to the patients, both in Queensland and around Australia, but we also have intercontinental capability as well," Smith continues. "So, the same care we deliver in Australia, we can deliver on an international scale and do long distance transfers, because our jets can stay airborne for about seven hours straight, which means we don’t have to stop, which is fantastic for patient treatment."

Brisbane's RACQ LifeFlight Rescue air ambulance jet crew helped 221 people, while Townsville's jet helped 266.

The majority of patients helped by LifeFlight Australia are treated or airlifted in missions that are tasked by Queensland Health.

The service was able to achieve these record results despite COVID impacting staffing levels, aeromedical crew availability and operational capability more in 2022 than any other year of the pandemic, making last year the most challenging in the service’s proud history of providing vital rescue and retrieval services.

The RACQ LifeFlight Rescue and LifeFlight Surat Gas Aeromedical Service (SGAS) rotary wing fleet completed 2,177 critical missions and was called into action to help Queenslanders in search and rescues in bushland, out at sea or for cardiac incidents.

There were uniquely Australian rescue emergencies, with crews responding to a dingo attack, a crocodile attack and multiple outback rescues during the wet season. The RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopters played a vital role in the aerial response to the devastating flood events of early 2022, which saw at least 50 people and many pets winched, rescued or airlifted by RACQ LifeFlight Rescue choppers. Numerous searches and welfare checks were performed from the air and many people, unable to travel by ambulance due to flooded roads, were transferred to hospitals.

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