New helicopter to boost North Qld emergency response
A new state-of-the-art helicopter purchased by the Bligh Government for aero-medical, search and rescue services will start operations from Townsville this week. Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts said the Government had invested $48 million over three years for three new Agusta Westland (AW) 139 helicopters to upgrade Emergency Management Queensland Rescue's current fleet.
(Media-Newswire.com) - A new state-of-the-art helicopter purchased by the Bligh Government for aero-medical, search and rescue services will start operations from Townsville this week.
Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts said the Government had invested $48 million over three years for three new Agusta Westland ( AW ) 139 helicopters to upgrade Emergency Management Queensland Rescue’s current fleet.
“The new helicopter based in Townsville is the second to join the fleet with the Brisbane helicopter already working and the Cairns helicopter is due to arrive and be operational early next financial year,” she said.
“The new helicopter will boast a 30% increase in range and a 20% increase in speed than the helicopter it will replace.”
Mr Roberts said the AW139 helicopter will greatly boost search and rescue and aero-medical patient transfer across north Queensland, providing EMQ Rescue with a greater flight range and speed.
“The helicopter, pilots and crew have undertaken extensive testing and training before becoming fully operational for emergency rescue work,” Mr Roberts said.
“The new helicopter demonstrates the Government’s commitment to plan for future needs of north Queensland and improving emergency service responses.”
“When configured for EMQ Helicopter Rescue, the AW 139 helicopters will have a single flight endurance of three hours, giving it an operational range of 870 kilometres, flying at 290km per hour.”
“For patients this means that nearly 25 minutes can be slashed off a two-hour retrieval mission, significantly improving medical care. In emergencies, every extra minute saved is critical.”
“With the use of night-vision goggles, the AW 139 helicopter will give Queensland the most advanced aero-medical helicopter rescue fleet in the country.”
Mr Roberts and local Members Lindy Nelson-Carr, Mike Reynolds and Craig Wallace inspected the new helicopter at its Townsville base following the Government’s State Cabinet meeting yesterday.
“The AW139 is twin engine helicopter. It is capable of carrying up to 2000 kilograms of useful load, plus a vastly improved cabin design and technology upgrades for pilots, crews and medical staff,” Mr Roberts said.
Mr Roberts said in addition to EMQ’s emergency helicopter rescue services at Townsville, Cairns and Brisbane ( Archerfield ), the Government provided $9.6 million for four community helicopter services in 2007-08.
“The Government-owned and operated helicopter services, combined with the community services, cover approximately 90% of the State’s population, 24 hours, seven days per week,” Mr Roberts said.
The AW 139 helicopter is manufactured in Italy. EMQ pilots and engineers have undertaken training in Italy as well as extensive testing and training in Queensland.
EMQ Rescue remains one of Australia’s busiest emergency helicopter networks with in excess of 2500 hours annually including search and rescue ( over land and sea ), primary medical response, hospital patient transfers and evacuations.
Mr Roberts said the work of the pilots and crews of EMQ’s emergency rescue helicopters at Townsville and Cairns came to national attention this year through the ABC Television series “Chopper Rescue”. Negotiations are underway for a possible second series of the “Chopper Rescue” program.
27 May 2008 Media contacts: Brendan Connell ( travelling with Minister ) 0437 837 976 Kirby Anderson 3247 8194 or 0418 197 350
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