A vital Sunshine Coast-based rescue service is set to benefit from a funding commitment worth hundreds-of-millions of dollars and a new purpose-built hangar.
LifeFlight will receive more than $586 million in state government funding during the next 10 years.
A total of $18.63 million of that will be allocated for the new base to be built at the Aerospace Precinct at Sunshine Coast Airport.
LifeFlight CEO Ashley Mr van de Velde says the funding will future proof the group’s search, rescue and aeromedical services, which bring equity of healthcare to people across the state.
“For more than 40 years, LifeFlight Australia has been Queensland’s largest community helicopter rescue service, delivering emergency response, critical medical care and inter-hospital airlifts to seriously ill and injured people,” he says.
“The announcement ensures that we can continue to provide this vital rescue service to the people of Queensland, with the assurance that emergency medical care is available 24/7, 365 days a year, no matter where you live.”
The purpose-built hangar will give LifeFlight the versatility – if operationally required – to immediately house two AW139 RACQ LifeFlight rescue helicopters and one Challenger 604 air ambulance jet.
“When completed, this base will give us the flexibility to accommodate various combinations of aircraft from the LifeFlight fleet, depending on the needs of the state’s aeromedical network,” Mr van de Velde says.
“It may be two choppers and a jet. It might be multiple helicopters.”
The base will include crew accommodation and other improved facilities, larger engineering areas, direct ambulance access to the hangar, and more space for support and administration staff, plus a visitor centre.
Construction of the new base will take about 11 months and should start early next year, following a tender process.
The remainder of the funding will be used to upgrade equipment, including a modern power-stretcher loading system compatible with Queensland Ambulance Service stretchers and the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
It will also allow LifeFlight to be able to upgrade ageing helicopters, create centralised maintenance facilities and invest in aeromedical infrastructure in regional Queensland.
The Roy and Nola Thompson LifeFlight Hangar, which houses the service’s current operations, will be retained by the service.
Sunshine Coast Airport is helping to guarantee the future of LifeFlight, with generous terms on a 20-plus-year lease of a parcel of land that will be large enough to build the current planned base, as well as allowing room for expansion in the decades ahead.
DID YOU KNOW?
In 2022, the Sunshine Coast-based RACQ LifeFlight rescue helicopter helped 448 people and spent 673 hours in the air at a cost of about $11.2 million. That service came at no cost to patients. Across the country, LifeFlight Australia crews went to the aid of 6978 people.