The RACQ Helicopter Service on scene on November 12 at Great Keppel Island for two patients with a suspected drug overdose.
The RACQ Helicopter Service on scene on November 12 at Great Keppel Island for two patients with a suspected drug overdose.

Why men who overdosed on drugs at GKI won’t pay for rescue

THE HELICOPTER rescue of two patients who were suffering from suspected drug overdoses on Great Keppel Island last month caused quite a stir with the public.

Many readers sent SMSs and letters to the editors to The Morning Bulletin, along with a frenzy of comments across social media, stating the patients should be forced to pay the costs incurred from the RACQ Capricorn Rescue going to retrieve them.

The RACQ Capricorn Rescue helicopter service was tasked to the island on November 16 around 12.30pm while a music festival, Sunset Sessions, was happening.

The two men in their 20s were treated by the ground-based paramedics while they awaited the arrival of the helicopter.

The helicopter's on-board critical care paramedic and doctor also assisted with ­further treatment.

They were in a serious condition for the duration of the flight and were released from Rockhampton Hospital the next day.

Responding to The Morning Bulletin's questions around the response to the incident, The RACQ Capricorn Rescue advised its service was "provided free of charge to every resident of Central Queensland, no matter the instance".

It did say it attempted to obtain costs associated with tasks from things like work cover and travel insurance.

The service is funded through the Federal and State governments, sponsorship and community fundraising.

The hourly operational costs of the Bell 412EP helicopters is upwards of $7,500.

The RACQ Capricorn Rescue averages more than $650,000 a month with operational costs alone.

"When our crew are tasked, they are given very minimal details of the circumstances," a spokesperson said.

"They are provided the location and asked if they have the capabilities to retrieve a patient from there.

"Things they consider are fuel capabilities, weather, and the crew's fatigue.

"They respond to every task with the same level of urgency, unaware if it's for someone in a relatively stable condition or someone in serious situation."

To date this year the helicopter has carried out 440 tasks.

This includes a variety of tasks across Central Queensland from motor vehicle accidents, hospital transfers, incidents on rural properties, winch extractions from mountain tops and large ships, search and rescue missions for activated EPIRBs or those missing in remote areas around the region.

"While tasks such as the one to Great Keppel Island are infrequent, RACQ Capricorn Rescue is ready to respond to those in need 24/7, 365 days a year," a spokesperson said.



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