15 May 2023

New helicopters to serve Cape, Torres Strait

| Matt Nicholls
The Torres Strait and northern Cape can expect to see new choppers in the air.

The Torres Strait and northern Cape can expect to see new choppers in the air.

NEW high-tech helicopters which can travel further and faster will soon boost healthcare in the Cape and Torres Strait after Babcock was chosen as the provider of emergency helicopter services for the region.

Operating from Horn Island, Babcock will provide 24/7 services across the region, including aeromedical retrieval and search and rescue.

The aircraft will also be available to support other government departments, including the police and QFES.

The 12-year contract continues a long relationship between the state government and Babcock in the region and will represent a significant uplift in capability.

Under the agreement, Babcock will introduce two multi-mission Leonardo AW139 helicopters with increased speed, range and operational capability.

The cabin will be modified in Queensland and will incorporate the latest aeromedical configuration, including roll-on-roll-off stretchers as used by QAS for increased patient care.

Each aircraft will also be fitted with a winch and a Wescam MX-15 Electro optic/infra-red camera making it a highly capable search and rescue (SAR) platform.

Peter Newington is Babcock’s managing director of aviation and critical services and said the introduction of the AW139 aircraft represented a major change in capability to QAS and Queensland Health’s service in the Torres Strait and northern Cape.

“Babcock has operated in the remote Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula regions for more than 27 years, ensuring the ongoing access to emergency medical services for some of the hardest-to-reach communities,” Mr Newington said.

“Our experience in the region gives us a unique understanding of the tasks and their interaction with the challenging environment due to the cluster of small islands and changing weather conditions.”

Under the new agreement, Babcock plans to increase its commitment to the local communities.

“We will be taking a more strategic and targeted approach to deliver opportunities for local business growth, support for the local Indigenous community, and positive outcomes for Queensland and its residents,” Mr Newington said.

Minister for Health and Ambulance Service Yvette D’Ath said the state government was committed to delivering, free, world-class healthcare to every Queenslander, no matter where they live.

“Queensland is the most decentralised state in the country meaning delivering emergency health services is challenging,” she said.

“Not only will these helicopters support inter-facility transfers of patients and delivery of emergency health care, they will also provide search and rescue capability.

“Having dedicated clinical staff and on-site facilities will improve operational response times, in line with other helicopter bases.”

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