The Queensland government has signed a $288 million deal with Babcock to support search and rescue and aeromedical services in the Torres Strait and northern Cape York Peninsula.
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Under the new agreement, Babcock will introduce two multi-mission Leonardo AW139 helicopters with increased speed, range, and operational capability. The cabin will be modified in Queensland and will incorporate the latest aeromedical configuration including roll-on-roll-off stretchers as used by Queensland Ambulance Service for increased patient care. Each aircraft will also be fitted with a winch and a Wescam MX-15 Electro Optic/Infra-Red Camera making it a highly capable search and rescue (SAR) platform.
Operating from Horn Island, Babcock will provide 24/7 services across the region including aeromedical retrieval and search and rescue. The aircraft will also be available to support taskings from other government departments including Queensland Fire and Emergency Services and Queensland Police.
Babcock’s managing director of aviation and critical services, Peter Newington, said the introduction of the AW139 aircraft represents a step change in capability to Queensland Ambulance Service and Queensland Health’s service in the Torres Strait.
“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,” Newington said.
The new aircraft type and role equipment will give the local community access to improved patient care and enhanced SAR capability, a critical service in the island community.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Yvette D’Ath said the Queensland government is committed to delivering, free, world-class healthcare to every Queenslander no matter where they live.
“Queensland is the most decentralised state in the country, meaning delivering emergency health services is challenging,” Minister D’Ath said.
“Not only will these helicopters support interfacility transfers of patients and delivery of emergency healthcare via pre-hospital missions, they will also provide enhanced search and rescue capability, a critical service in the region.