The Queensland government has signed a $288 million, 12-year deal with defence, aviation and critical services firm Babcock to provide emergency helicopter services for the Torres Strait and Northern Cape York Peninsula.
Babcock will operate two multi-mission Leonardo AW139 helicopters with “increased speed, range and operational capability” to provide 24/7 services in the region. Each will be equipped with aeromedical capabilities including roll-on-roll-off stretchers, a winch, and an electro optic/infrared camera for search and rescue (SAR).
“Queensland is the most decentralised state in the country meaning delivering emergency health services is challenging,” said Minister for Health and Ambulance Service Yvette D’Ath.
“Not only will these helicopters support interfacility transfers of patients and delivery of emergency health care via pre-hospital missions, they will also provide enhanced search and rescue capability, a critical service in the region.
“Having dedicated clinical staff and onsite facilities will improve operational response times, in line with other helicopter bases across the state.”
Babcock has worked with the Queensland government in the Torres Strait for 15 years, and according to its managing director aviation & critical services, Peter Newington, the new aircraft will represent a “step change” for Queensland Ambulance Service and Queensland Health’s operations in the region, giving the community improved SAR and patient care.
“Babcock has operated in the remote Torres Strait and Northern Peninsula regions for more than 27 years, ensuring the ongoing access to Emergency Medical Services for some of the hardest-to-reach communities,” he said.
“Our experience in the region gives us a unique understanding of the tasks and their interaction with the challenging environment due to the cluster of small islands, and ever-changing weather conditions.”