They promised us a chopper, so where is it?

EXCLUSIVE: Serious concerns have been raised over the delivery of a state-of-the-art rescue helicopter that had been pledged to the Toowoomba region earlier this year.

RACQ LifeFlight, then known as CareFlight, announced to 500 of its biggest supporters the Toowoomba base would receive an Agusta Westland-139 aircraft by the end of the year.

Chairman Rob Borbidge made the announcement at the One Enchanted Evening gala dinner in May to the room of supporters and donors who paid $199 a ticket and raised in excess of $120,000 on the night.

The funds were to help fit out the AW-139 with some of the most advanced technology that would transform the LifeFlight services on the Darling and Western Downs regions.

NEW BIRD: RACQ CareFlight ceo Ashley Van De Velde, Minister for Police and Community Safety Jack Dempsey and RACQ director Nigel Alexander unveil Bundaberg's newly painted RACQ CareFlight Rescue helicopter. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
NEW BIRD: RACQ CareFlight ceo Ashley Van De Velde, Minister for Police and Community Safety Jack Dempsey and RACQ director Nigel Alexander unveil Bundaberg's newly painted RACQ CareFlight Rescue helicopter. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet BUN061213HEL3

But that pledge appears to have been simply a remark made to a room of generous residents and benefactors.

RACQ LifeFlight CEO Ashley van de Velde has since said it is yet to be decided where the AW-139 helicopter will be based.

"LifeFlight is currently reviewing the requirements and operational needs of its community helicopter fleet in the south-west region and where and how it can make best use of its helicopters," he said.

"No final decision has been made about the location of assets at the Toowoomba base but we're confident the review will result in an improved service to the local region."

Mr van de Velde said RACQ LifeFlight was liaising with Toowoomba Regional Council regarding the review.

He said the fleet's replacement program was "dependent on funding and grants", and would be undertaken in a "financially responsible manner".

The Toowoomba base is the busiest in the state, performing the most critical rescue missions from the McDougall St hangar.

The AW139 helicopter already operational in the RACQ LifeFlight fleet.
The AW139 helicopter already operational in the RACQ LifeFlight fleet. Contributed

It also covers the widest and some of the most remote areas in Queensland. regions in Queensland.

"We have a strategy in place to progressively upgrade out state-wide fleet over the next three to five years," Mr van de Velde said.

"LifeFlight, as a not-for- profit organisation, must remain financially viable and ensure it is always maximising the use of the funds it receives from the communities it supports, government and our major sponsors and supporters.

"Our commitment to patient outcomes, saving lives and providing the best medical outcome in a person's hour of need, along with our excellent safety record, is as strong as ever."

The AW-139 aircraft is the latest of its kind in the service with increased speed capacity and world-class medical treatment available online.

There are two AW-138 crafts with the $1.8 million Emergency Medical Service fit-out installed currently operational in the fleet, servicing the Gympie and Sunshine Coast regions.

A third, previously pledged to the region, is expected to enter the fleet this year.
 


Popular river business launches makeover bid

Premium Content Popular river business launches makeover bid

A popular business is asking for permission to expand its premises.

MEGA GALLERY: 150+ photos of Coast hockey deciders

Premium Content MEGA GALLERY: 150+ photos of Coast hockey deciders

See all the photos from Saturday's senior hockey grand finals

AMAZING DEAL: Read it all for $3 a week for first 12 weeks

Premium Content AMAZING DEAL: Read it all for $3 a week for first 12 weeks

You get access to local and regional news and the Courier Mail