Independent and FREE - 2021 Best Online Publication

Heroes in the sky: LifeFlight Rescue’s record year

Independent and FREE – 2021 Best Online Publication (Qld Country Press)

Heroes in the sky: LifeFlight Rescue’s record year

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Heroes in the sky: RACQ LifeFlight Rescue's record year of saving lives

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Sunshine Coast-based RACQ LifeFlight Rescue crews flew a record number of lifesaving missions in 2021.

The team was tasked on 551 critical missions, compared to 502, in 2020.

Those airlifts were valued at $13.7 million and saw the crews spend more than 750 hours in the air.

RACQ LifeFlight Rescue General Manager of Operations, Brian Guthrie, said the milestone highlighted how important the aeromedical service’s work was.

“We operate 365 days a year, 24/7, and we’re always ready for action, ensuring we can get critical medical care to people in need, as quickly as possible,” Mr Guthrie said.


The crews were called to a wide range of missions, including almost 100 motor vehicle incidents and 16 searches.

“We’re very proud that we’ve been able to make such a difference across Queensland in 2021.”

The view from an RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter.

Motor vehicle incidents came in as the second highest reason for callouts.

“Predominantly, these include crashes on and off road, as well as quad bike incidents,” Mr Guthrie said.

“Our crews are able to respond quickly, land on a hospital helipad and get critical patients straight into an emergency department or an ICU.”

One of the many jobs that showed the agility of the highly-trained crews included a tasking to a beach in the Gympie region, after a man was injured in an explosion during a barbecue.


The chopper hovered low over the sand, to allow the aeromedical team to carefully step off the aircraft and treat the patient at the scene. 

Top 5 reasons for callouts in 2021

  • Cardiac (106)
  • Motor vehicle accidents (96)
  • Serious illness/infection (48)
  • Neurological (40)
  • Falls (24)

The service’s long term naming rights sponsor, RACQ, has urged drivers to put safety first, to reduce the number of serious crashes on roads in the region.

“Last year 274 people lost their lives on Queensland roads. That’s thousands of lives changed forever, families and communities torn apart,” RACQ spokesperson Kate Leonard-Jones said.

“RACQ LifeFlight Rescue does an incredible job but we don’t want drivers meeting the crew because of a crash,” she said.

An RACQ LifeFlight Rescue helicopter on the landing pad. Picture: Courtesy RACQ LifeFlight Rescue.

“It’s very simple, people need to remember the Fatal Five when they get behind the wheel.


“Wear a seatbelt, don’t speed, don’t drive if you’re tired or affected by drugs or alcohol and don’t be distracted.”

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Across the state, RACQ LifeFlight Rescue’s fleet of community helicopters, Air Ambulance jets and Critical Care Doctors performed 6846 missions, which was a record for the service.

The service is funded by a combination of a service agreement with the Queensland Government, community fundraising, the sponsorship of RACQ and profit-for-purpose enterprises.

“The continuing demand on the service highlights how important it is that the community’s generosity keeps coming,” Mr Guthrie said.