The gas industry-funded aero medical evacuation (AME) helicopter service has conducted more than 60 successful retrieval missions in its first year, including 39 for members of the public needing urgent medical attention.
Funded by Arrow Energy, Origin, QGC and Santos GLNG Project, the service was launched in April 2011 to help minimise the impact on local medical services of growing gas industry operations.
Representing the four coal seam gas companies, Stephen Pearson, Chair of the Surat Basin Gas Industry Working Group, said that the service had also become an important aero medical resource for communities in southern Queensland.
CareFlight Group Queensland operates the service, which provides immediate first aid and emergency transportation for critically ill and injured patients.
“The decision to establish the service was based on industry recognising the need to minimise the impacts of its operations as well as a strong, shared desire to support and add value to local communities,” Mr Pearson said.
“We have workers located in remote areas which are often hard to reach in the event of a medical emergency and we didn’t want to draw on communities’ medical services.
“The solution was to come together as an industry and launch the Surat Basin Gas Industry AME retrieval service.”
As part of the service, up to 100 hours of dedicated community use a year is funded by the industry.
“Ensuring this service was also available to the wider community was a top priority. By working closely with Queensland Health, the choppers are now part of Queensland’s network of aero medical resources,” Mr Pearson said.
“As a result, the AME choppers have played a vital role in the rapid evacuation and treatment of local people injured in a range of situations including motor vehicle accidents, farming mishaps, horse falls and even snake bites.”
One helicopter is based in Roma and a back-up is in Toowoomba. Each has the capability to accommodate two patients.
As part of the service a critical-care doctor and a paramedic, along with a pilot and co-pilot, are stationed in Roma 365 days a year. There is a 30-minute launch time in daylight and a 60-minute launch time at night.
Access to the service, by industry and the community, is based on clinical priority as determined and coordinated by emergency services on a case-by-case basis.
The Surat Basin Gas Industry AME retrieval service is privately funded by the four CSG companies.
LNG World News Staff, May 4, 2012; Image: careflightgroup