An RAC Rescue helicopter crew has been recognised with a Commendation Award at the National Search and Rescue Council’s annual awards for a 12 hour marathon offshore retrieval mission over remote waters near Esperance, Western Australia.
Crewed by pilot Craig Bowman, aircrewman Garth Fitzgerald and St John Ambulance paramedic Ben Harris, the RAC Rescue Bell 412EP, callsign Rescue 651, was called out on the evening of November 6 2016 to winch a 27-year-old crayfisherman off the vessel Fatal Attraction, which was off the coast near Israelite Bay, 114 nautical miles east of Esperance.
In high winds and with the fishing boat battling a heavy swell, Harris was winched aboard the vessel to splint the injured man’s broken leg. Harris and the crayfisherman where then winched aboard the helicopter before Rescue 651 flew to Esperance. There the patient was transferred to an awaiting Royal Flying Doctor Service PC-12 for onward transfer to Royal Perth Hospital.
“We are thrilled that our dedicated and experienced crew, in conjunction with St John Ambulance, have been recognised with a national award from NATSAR Council,” CHC Asia Pacific regional director Vincent D’Rozario said of the award, presented in Canberra on October 20.
“Not a day goes by when there aren’t incredible SAR operations all over the world that fly under the radar. Our crews have saved so many lives and we are thankful to the NATSAR Council for holding these awards to acknowledge the terrific work that is done by search-and-rescue teams every day.”
Jandakot-based RAC Rescue is operated by CHC Helicopter under contract for Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES).
View footage of the rescue on Vimeo here.