Improving training facilities for Central Qld helicopter rescue service

Organisation: RACQ CQ Rescue

Project: Static Winch Training Simulator

Amount: $25,125

Year of grant: 2014

Based in Mackay, RACQ CQ Rescue is a community helicopter rescue service providing rapid response critical care and aeromedical retrieval services 24 hours each day, 365 days a year to an area covering more than four times the size of Tasmania, ranging from Bowen in the north to St Lawrence in the south and includes the majority of the Bowen Basin, the Whitsunday Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. Averaging 1.25 missions each day of the year, its patients are often in isolated or remote locations which means the provision of aero-medical and search and rescue services are the patient’s best chance of survival.

In 2014, The John Villiers Trust co-funded a significant capacity building project for CQ Rescue which resulted in freeing up vital funds for essential CQ Rescue services in the community

Like all helicopter rescue services, CQ Rescue is required to provide ongoing training for its rescue crewmen, pilots and air crewmen working on board the rescue helicopter. This includes 50 hours per year of winch training which meant flying the helicopter to a remote area away from crowds and vehicles to conduct the training at a considerable hourly cost of $6,850.

The logical cost-effective solution was to install a Static Winch Training Platform in the CQ Rescue hangar at Mackay airport which acts as a virtual helicopter without the cost of flight time. It can perform the same simulated role and upon the completion of training with a final real test flight, the rescue crewmen are fully qualified.

In a collaborative effort, The John Villiers Trust grant of $25,125 was matched by a grant from the Hail Creek Mine Community Development Fund.

Launched in September 2014, the emergency rescue helicopter winch simulator is the first of its kind in Queensland. The simulator emulates the design of the Bell 412 helicopter including sliding door panel and skids providing an authentic training environment for life-saving winch operations.

The winch simulator is now fully in use and is also available to other rescue services in the community for training purposes. Installation of the simulator has resulted in savings of $340,000 per year for CQ Rescue.