Our History

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Our History 2017-05-11T10:32:05+00:00

Our History – 21 years

  • RACQ CQ Rescue celebrates 20 years of saving lives in this region & reaches the milestone of 7000 missions in August.
  • Dr. Peter Bastable, founding board member and director, receives Mackay Regional Council Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award for his services to the community spanning some 25 years.
  • Downturn in the coal mining industry sees approx 18,000 people leave the Mackay and Bowen Basin regions.
  • RACQ CQ Rescue Volunteer Co-ordinator Bob Sim is announced as an Australia Day award recipient, receiving an Order of Australia Medal for his service to the community.
  • CQ Rescue Testing Services is rebranded to CQR Health to reflect a wider service offering and committment to providing corporate health solutions (not limited to drug and alcohol testing).
  • In early April, RACQ CQ Rescue is put on standby to deploy to Townsville in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Ita, to help the people of North Queensland. Luckily the storm’s damage is not as severe as predicted and the deployment is cancelled.
  • On Easter Monday, RACQ CQ Rescue locates five missing people at Wigton Island in the Whitsundays after a huge ‘SOS’ is spotted etched into the sand. News of the rescue goes around the world and RACQ CQ Rescue receives media attention from Good Morning America, Fox News New York, ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, and BBC Radio UK, Ireland and Wales.
  • Our busiest year on record – 509 tasks and more than 900 engine hours!
  • Eight RACQ CQ Rescue past and present crew members are awarded the National Emergency Medal in March, in recognition of their work during the natural disaster stricken start to 2011.
  • On July 1, the contract with new helicopter provider Australian Helicopters commences and a Bell 412 EP helicopter (VH-CQJ) is introduced as RACQ CQ Rescue’s primary aircraft. VH-NSV and VH-BZH depart. In September a Bell 412 SP helicopter (VH-LSY) is introduced as RACQ CQ Rescue’s back-up aircraft.
  • Flood assistance is provided to Brisbane for the second year in a row, with VH-EPK relocated to Brisbane for 4 days in February. VH-NSV returns to service in Mackay and VH-EPK departs.
  • RACQ CQ Rescue is called upon to provide flood assistance to Brisbane in January. VH-NSV is flown south and flies 10 life-saving tasks in 7 days.
  • In February, RACQ CQ Rescue provides disaster assistance to Townsville in the wake of Tropical Cyclone Yasi. VH-NSV flies 9 tasks in 4 days.
  • In May, VH-NSV is relocated to Brisbane again to undergo its 3,000 hour service. A replacement Bell 412 helicopter (VH-EPK) arrives in Mackay, allowing RACQ CQ Rescue to continue operating as a two aircraft base.
  • RACQ CQ Rescue celebrates its 15th anniversary, holding a gala dinner on September 2.
  • RACQ CQ Rescue flies its 4,000th mission on January 15.
  • CQ Rescue Testing Services is established to provide drug and alcohol testing services to the booming Mackay heavy industry sector. Profits from CQ Rescue Testing Services are channelled back to RACQ CQ Rescue to boost fundraising efforts.
  • The second stage of a Federal Government grant is received to build a multi-purpose aeromedical base to house two helicopters and a fixed wing aircraft. The building is erected next door to the existing RACQ CQ Rescue base.
  • Chairman of the Board, Peter Bastable is awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to emergency medicine and RACQ CQ Rescue.
  • VH-PVK is retired and a second Bell 412 helicopter (VH-BZH) enters the service, making RACQ CQ Rescue the first Community Helicopter Base in Queensland to be operating two Bell 412 helicopters.
  • RACQ CQ Rescue provides flood assistance to Emerald and Rockhampton.
  • RACQ CQ Rescue plays a large part in the rescue of 37 people from tourist ketch “Romance” on February 12. It is the largest helicopter rescue ever recorded in Australian Maritime History to a single vessel. A Bronze Bravery Medal from the Royal Humane Society of Australasia is awarded to the crew members involved.
  • Mackay is affected by a major flood event on February 14 and Mackay airport is isolated.
  • Queensland Government commences contributions of $2million per annum.
  • RACQ CQ Rescue flies its 3,000th mission on April 23.
  • RACQ CQ Rescue celebrates its 10th anniversary, holding a gala dinner on September 30.
  • VH-NSP is replaced by another Bell 412 helicopter (VH-NSV).
  • Two trainee Rescue Crewman are employed by RACQ CQ Rescue.
  • VH-LHP is retired and replaced with a Bell 412 (VH-NSP). VH-NSP has been used previously as an air ambulance, in addition to being used by the Pope during his tour of South America in 1983.
  • Queensland Health provides a full-time doctor for day operations.
  • Senior Base Engineer, David Jibson, is awarded the National Medal, which recognises long and diligent service by members of recognised organisations that help the community during times of crisis.
  • A Eurocopter 365 C1 Twin Engine helicopter (VH-PVK) enters the service. VH-PVK is a former police airwing helicopter and was also previously the private aircraft of Romanian President Nicolae Ceausescu.
  • CQ RESQ changes its trading name to CQ Rescue to clarify its identity and reduce confusion around the name. New branding is implemented to reflect the name change.
  • RACQ CQ Rescue moves into its new premises.
  • VH-HTD crashes off Cape Hillsborough on October 17. Three crewmen are tragically killed – Andrew Carpenter, Stewart Eva and Craig Liddington.
  • The service is taken offline until October 31 when it once again becomes operational. Flight nurses are first to fly.
  • RACQ CQ RESQ flies its 2,000th mission on November 11.
  • The first stage of a Federal Government grant is received to build new premises for RACQ CQ RESQ.
  • Flight nurses from Mackay Base Hospital take a very active role in RACQ CQ RESQ, participating in approximately 80% of missions.
  • The Bell 407 helicopter arrives (VH-HTD) and VH-LHP becomes the services back-up aircraft, turning CQ RESQ into a two aircraft base.
  • CQ RESQ employs its first full time Air Crewman and Rescue Crewman.
  • RACQ becomes the naming rights sponsor of CQ RESQ.
  • CQ RESQ flies its 1,000th mission on August 11.
  • CQ RESQ undergoes a selection process to choose a new aircraft to enhance the service’s capabilities, with a Bell 407 being chosen.
  • 260 tasks are carried out.
  • 271 tasks are carried out.
  • 216 tasks are carried out in CQ RESQ’s first full year of operation.
  • Queensland Government contributes $300,000.
  • Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service registers its trading name as CQ RESQ.
  • CQ RESQ’s premises consist of two dongas and a quarter of a shared hangar, affectionately known today as the ‘Old Hangar’ at Casey Drive, Mackay Airport.
  • CQ RESQ’s first helicopter arrives, a Bell Longranger 206 (VH-LHP).
  • Initial sponsors include Thiess, BMA, Queensland Rail and CFMEU.
  • CQ RESQ isn’t even commissioned yet when it flies its first mission to Hayman Island, where a woman is critically unwell with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy on August 27. Hospital employees are helping fit out the helicopter when the call comes in, but they climb on board and complete the service’s first life-saving mission.
  • CQ RESQ completes its first official flight on September 1.
  • Queensland Ambulance Service paramedics are trained to be winch operators and rescue crewmen.
  • CQ RESQ’s flight crew consists of a mix of paramedics, flight nurses and doctors from Mackay Base Hospital.
  • 58 tasks are carried out.
  • Queensland Government promises to contribute $300,000 if Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service Limited raises $300,000.
  • Mackay City Council donates $1,000 to help cover initial expenses.
  • A full-time fundraiser is employed to ensure the money is raised to secure the Queensland Government’s support.
  • Cook Family Trust donates $500,000 over five years.
  • A Public Meeting is held on November 16 to outline the requirements and need for a Helicopter and Rescue Medical Retrieval Service, with the aim of forming a Community Committee.
  • An official committee is elected on December 8 and Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service Limited is officially registered.
  • MIM donates the use of their Agusta Westland 109 helicopter for aeromedical use. In three years it carries out over 190 missions.
  • Mackay’s emergency services are overwhelmed by a major multi-vehicle road crash in an isolated area near Lake Elphinstone. A Mount Isa Mines (MIM) helicopter flies to the aid of those involved, transferring them to Mackay Base Hospital and helping ensure they all survived. The incident highlights the need for a rescue helicopter to service the many areas of Central Queensland that are remote or difficult to access by ambulance.
  • Hospital and ambulance workers call a meeting to discuss the establishment of a helicopter rescue service, and work to secure the Central Queensland Helicopter Rescue Service begins.