A proposed collaboration between the AGL Action Rescue Helicopter and CareFlight NSW has the potential to improve patient outcomes, increase safety and training for crews, and enhance the delivery of regionally-based helicopter services.
At 3:30 this afternoon (30 July) staff at the Maroochydore and Bundaberg helicopter bases were informed of the two Services’ desire to forge ahead with a national framework for community based rescue helicopters.
“The AGL Action Rescue Helicopter and CareFlight NSW share a vision for a new national entity to consolidate Community Helicopter Providers (CHP’s) under a single model. It’s something we hope can involve other CHP’s as it evolves,” explained CEO David Donaldson.
Currently 11 Community Helicopter Providers operate Australia wide, providing life saving services across 15 bases.
“We believe a national frame work would allow us to consolidate our depth of experience and capabilities. It’s about looking within the industry at the way we do things and out of that developing a national best-practice. This could apply to everything from night landings and rescues to training and maintenance, ultimately improving safety for our crews and patients.
“At this stage we’ve agreed simply to explore the possibilities with CareFlight NSW but it’s anticipated the collaboration could include staff exchanges, shared resources and joint ventures,” he said.
“We have also agreed on the importance of retaining our local identity within the community. All CHP’s operate as not-for-profit organisations and will continue to rely on sponsorships and community donations to meet funding shortfalls.”
Staff have also been assured their jobs are safe.
“As it is we operate on the slimmest margin, with 90 per cent of our budget spent on operational costs just to keep our helicopters in the air. This is about strengthening our operation not about cutbacks,” Mr Donaldson said.
Chief Pilot Brent Chamberlain said the announcement came as a surprise but that the collaboration was an exciting step forward.
“I think it’s a positive move for the organisation. Everyone seems to have taken the news pretty well, we’re all cautiously optimistic. Something like this has been talked about for years, not just at AGL Action Rescue but widely within the industry, so to see something finally happening and to be a part of that is pretty exciting,” Mr Chamberlain said.