Challenger 604s and Learjet 45 to rescue Queensland COVID-19 patients

written by Adam Thorn | April 3, 2020

The Queensland government has agreed a new deal with aeromedical charity RACQ LifeFlight Air Ambulance to transfer COVID-19 patients from regional areas to medical facilities.

The state will now have access to a Challenger 604 and Learjet 45 based in Townsville, and a further 604 based in Brisbane. All three have been specifically adapted to accommodate coronavirus cases.

LifeFlight Coordination Centre director Brian Guthrie said, “Standard operating procedures have been adopted, including doctors and nurses being required to wear protective masks, goggles, gloves and suits, as well as undertake appropriate decontamination measures, after they are in contact with suspected or confirmed coronavirus patients.”

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Last week, the Queensland Health and Ambulance Services Minister Dr Steven Miles agreed to take two jets, but has now upped the number to three.

The deal builds on a long-running service agreement between the state and LifeFlight.

Guthrie added, “The RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Air Ambulance jets are extremely suitable for this type work as they’re used primarily for high-acuity, long-range patient transport and can operate day or night, in all kinds of weather.

“The Learjets can fly at over 820 kilometres an hour, while the Challenger can reach 1,050 kilometres an hour.

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“Our aeromedical crews are on 24/7 standby and can be airborne within 90 minutes of the first activation call, from our central co-ordination centre.”

A Learjet 45 operated by LifeFlight (TracPlus)

Staff at tracking and communication provider TracPlus, which works with LifeFlight on the service, have even switched to working from home to enable rescue flights to go ahead.

Chief executive Trevor McIntyre said, “We have implemented measures to do what we can to support our operators who are at the face of COVID-19, keeping their teams safe, continuing to provide tracking, 24-hour distress and emergency monitoring to ensure operators can stay in touch with their people.”

To donate to the LifeFlight Foundation, click here.

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