On just his second day on the job, Babcock Australasia (Babcock) Rescue Crew Officer (RCO) Garrett Parkes completed his first winching rescue with RACQ Capricorn Rescue (RACQ CapRescue), retrieving a patient from an anchored container ship off Port Alma south east of Rockhampton.
A former Byron Bay Lifeguard and professional surfer, and current Army Reservist, Garrett had recently completed training with Babcock and had two days earlier been cleared as a qualified RCO.
“So technically, it was my second day on the job and straight off the bat I get my first rescue under my belt,” he said.
It was late on 23 May when RACQ CapRescue was tasked by Queensland Health to a vessel off Port Alma to retrieve a man who was suffering heart complications.
“We went out and did a reconnaissance but the conditions were not favourable in the dark with no reference point for the pilot, so with the patient in a stable condition, we opted to do it at first light the next morning,” Garrett said.
“The boat was at anchor but there was a bit of wind and small amount of swell when I was lowered onto the ship. I secured the patient in an Air Rescue Vest and we were both winched into the helicopter where the patient was assessed and monitored by the on-board Critical Care Paramedic. We then transported the patient to the Rockhampton Hospital for further observation.”
Speaking about his first rescue, Garret said, “It was pretty exciting, I’d had all night to think about it. I’d just come off a few solid weeks of training so it was still fresh in my mind, it just felt natural. It was great to do it for real, it was so rewarding.
“It’s quite a dream opportunity being in emergency services, working on the helicopters is the tip of the spear in some regards.
“To be involved in such a highly skilled team, whether it be the pilots, the air crew, the doctors and the paramedics, being surrounded by people like that is really rewarding. It’s great to see everyone working together and doing a rather unique and amazing job for the local community.”
Babcock is Australia’s largest provider of rotary wing emergency services and operates one of the world’s largest helicopter fleets.
Babcock has worked together with RACQ CapRescue in Rockhampton since 2013, maintaining and operating two mission-modified helicopters including a primary aircraft (AW139) and a dedicated backup aircraft (B412) as part of the Queensland Emergency Helicopter Network.
The company currently provides Pilots, Crew and Engineers, all locally based in Rockhampton.
Mark Fewtrell, Executive Director at RACQ CapRescue was keen to see Garrett recently complete his first rescue aboard Rescue300.
“In partnership with Babcock and as part of Queensland Health’s Emergency Helicopter Network, RACQ CapRescue delivers a vital life-saving service in Central Queensland. Our region is full of diverse terrain which often presents unique challenges for our rescue crews. On just his second day, Garrett was given an insight into the difficulties faced when performing a winch rescue over water in less than ideal conditions.
“Now that Garrett has completed his first rescue, we officially welcome him to the team that continues to make a real difference.”
Babcock Australasia’s Acting Managing Director – Aviation & Critical Services, Duncan Milne, was proud to see the partnership and close teamwork between RACQ CapRescue and Queensland Health in action and commended Garrett on his first rescue.
“This retrieval underlines the challenges posed by the weather and environment,” Mr Milne said. “It also highlights our commitment to ensuring safe, effective and efficient services to the community, while keeping the paramedics, doctors and nurses we work with safe when conducting airborne operations.
“This service is often the community’s only lifeline to help them when they need it. Keeping sophisticated aircraft ready to fly at short notice, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year is a complicated task that is testament to Babcock’s expertise, commitment and focus on safe practices.
“Congratulations to Garrett on his first rescue and for continuing to embody our spirit of service,” he said.