RACQ CQ Rescue pilot Leigh Wilkinson and air crewman Lee Jones-Fraser prepare the rescue helicopter for a mission.
RACQ CQ Rescue pilot Leigh Wilkinson and air crewman Lee Jones-Fraser prepare the rescue helicopter for a mission.

SOS: RACQ Rescue's desperate mayday to stay flying

THE region's first responders are calling out for help as RACQ CQ Rescue announced it was facing close to a million dollar shortfall.

Chief executive officer Ian Rowan said the cancellation of fundraisers due to coronavirus had left the not-for-profit organisation with an estimated $900,000 funding deficit.

Sponsorship, grants and critical community  donations would help the service through the financial hit, Mr Rowan said.

While a bleak outlook, Mr Chief executive officer Ian Rowan said this year's expected losses could be managed despite the service's high overhead costs.

"(But) we could not sustain another $900,000 loss year on year," Mr Rowan said.

"At one level it means we will have to be more careful about our financials.

"But if someone is sick or injured we will still be going."

Mr Rowan said the operation had some reserves, but further losses could mean support staff job losses and greater reliance on government grants.

"The last thing to be affected is the helicopoter operations," Mr Rowan said.

In an average year RACQ CQ Rescue crews would fly for 1000 hours, with each hour of flight-time costing the not-for-profit $8500, Mr Rowan said.

"You can see the amount of costs we have over 12 months," Mr Rowan said.

A trip from Moranbah to Townsville Hospital cost the service more than $50,000, he said.

A spokeswoman for the rescue helicopter service said the cancellation of fundraisers due to coronavirus had left the not-for-profit organisation with a $900,000 funding deficit.

The ramifications of the budget could be life threatening, she said.

"In the event of a medical emergency or dire situation in a remote or regional area, where injury or illness requires urgent aeromedical evacuation, RACQ CQRescue is the main rescue service available 24/7, 365 days a year," she said.

A RACQ CQ Rescue spokeswoman said the cancellation of fundraisers due to coronavirus has left the not-for-profit organisation with a $900,000 blackhole.
A RACQ CQ Rescue spokeswoman said the cancellation of fundraisers due to coronavirus has left the not-for-profit organisation with a $900,000 blackhole.

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"Without our rescue helicopter, … visitors, workers and residents in Central and North Queensland (will) face enormous challenges during times when minutes really count.

"Jets based in the southeast of our state are only dispatched on the very rare occasion that our local rescue helicopter service is unable to transfer patients outside of our service area."

Most recently the crews have been pivotal providing medical treatment to the Grosvenor Mine survivors three hours before other rescue services, she said.

In its 23-year history, the service has been the difference between life and death for more than 9300 patients, she said.

A Mackay RACQ CQ Rescue swimmer and VMR volunteer Dennis Pott take part in a training mission. A RACQ CQ Rescue spokeswoman said the cancellation of fundraisers due to coronavirus has left the not-for-profit organisation with a $900,000 blackhole.
A Mackay RACQ CQ Rescue swimmer and VMR volunteer Dennis Pott take part in a training mission. A RACQ CQ Rescue spokeswoman said the cancellation of fundraisers due to coronavirus has left the not-for-profit organisation with a $900,000 blackhole.

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The service has called on the community to dig deep to help the crews keep flying.

"Now more so than ever, we need this community to step up and be the real heroes in our region's story," she said.

"Donating to CQ Rescue means your money stays in this region and enables our local rescue helicopter to takeoff and be a lifeline when's it's really needed most."


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