High-tech helicopters which can travel further and faster will soon boost healthcare in the Torres Strait and Northern Cape York Peninsula after Babcock was chosen as the provider of emergency helicopter services for the region.
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.
The 12-year contract continues a 15-year relationship between Queensland Government and Babcock in the Torres Strait and will represent a significant uplift in capability to the region.
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.
Babcock’s Managing Director Aviation & 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.
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.
Newington said he is proud of the company’s long-standing partnership with the Queensland Government and the mission-critical services provided across northern Queensland.
“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.
“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.
Under the new agreement, Babcock plans to increase its commitment to the local communities.
“We will be taking a more strategic and targeted approach to deliver opportunities for local business growth, support for the local Indigenous and Torres Strait community, and positive outcomes for Queensland and its residents,” said Newington.
Minister for Health and Ambulance Service 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 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”.