VIDEO: New Capricorn rescue hanger
CRITICAL medical treatment in emergency situations across Central Queensland are set to be boosted in 2018 after the sod turning of a new rescue helicopter hanger today.
Officials attended the sod turning, which marks the start of construction for the $4.7 million facility which will house two helicopters for the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service in Rockhampton.
Minister for Regional Development, Fiona Nash, said this wonderful facility will provide better access to critical medical and search and rescue assistance for regional and remote communities.
"The RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service is the sole aeromedical and search and rescue service in the region, covering an area of 180,000km2 with more than 220,000 residents and this investment will support these services," Minister Nash said.
Federal Member for Capricornia, Michelle Landry, said the new facility will house both the services primary and backup rescue helicopters with additional room for future expansion.
"The pilots, crew, ambulance paramedics and doctors are on call 24/7 365 days-a-year and its imperative that they have access to state-of-the-art modern facilities and equipment," Ms Landry said.
Member for Rockhampton, Bill Byrne, said from his experience as Emergency Services Minister, he had a good understanding of how Queensland's rescue services operated and he believed the Capricorn service was probably the best in the state.
"The others could learn from this service,” he said.
RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service Executive Director Mark Fewtrell said local company Hutchinson Builders had been awarded the contract for the construction of the new hangar.
"The new facility replaces the existing 18-year-old hangar that we outgrew a few years ago and will go a long way to ensuring the service will always be available to the people who need us," Mr Fewtrell said.
The project is jointly funded by the Coalition Government ($2.34 million), the Queensland Government ($1.4 million) with the remaining $1 million being provided by the RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue Service with the assistance of sponsors and the community.
The project is scheduled for completion mid-late 2017.
The new hangar, due to be operational in 2018, will be elevated.
"We all know that it is inevitable that if a site in Rockhampton can be impacted by flooding it will be sooner or later,” he said.
"Operating from an elevated location will give the service greater operational capacity all year round.
"The service is so important to the Rockhampton region and that is why I lobbied so hard for there to be a helicopter pad on the roof of the new wing at Rockhampton Base Hospital.
"The helipad cuts the time it takes to get a patient from the helicopter to the operating theatre or intensive care ward by 25 minutes."
Mr Byrne thanked all those involved in the service.
"Every time it takes off it is the result of a triumph of collaboration involving pilots and crew, engineers, backroom staff, doctors from Queensland Health, paramedics from Queensland Ambulance Service and financial contributions from commercial sponsors and residents," he said.