Rescue helicopters clocked up 83 hours saving 100 lives
BUNDABERG'S helicopter rescue service flew more than 80 hours to save more than 100 people during the flood crisis, it was revealed today.
The AGL Action Rescue Helicopter Service, which relies on community donations to keep in the air, joined 18 rescue helicopters which swarmed over the flood stricken streets of North Bundaberg, winching hundreds to safety.
But before the Army and civilian aircraft arrived, AGL said it had already saved dozens of lives.
Braving atrocious weather in the wake of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald, the three helicopters from Bundaberg and Maroochydore were the only air assets able to get through from the south to begin the rescue effort three days earlier.
"For eight days, the Action Rescue crews worked tirelessly to save more than 100 people aged from just seven days to 92 years,'' a spokesperson said.
"They winched families stranded on the roofs of their inundated homes, they rescued people left clinging to trees as the flood waters roared past, the evacuated the elderly and medical patients from hospitals and nursing homes, always putting their community ahead of themselves.''
Bundaberg Pilot Peter Potroz's home was completely cut-off and his outer-lying buildings inundated while he was in the air saving others from a similar fate.
The not-for-profit Rescue Service committed its own Bundaberg hangar to the rescue effort, becoming a triage point for 150 hospital evacuees and the staging point for the army's black-hawk helicopters and personnel.
The service's engineers worked 'round the clock, foregoing their Australian Day long weekend to ensure all three AGL Action Rescue Helicopters were committed to the effort.
One had been due for its 300 hours service.
The AGL Action Rescue Helicopter Service is the state's busiest Community Helicopter Provider and second only to the Queensland Government's EMQ Helicopter in Brisbane - but during the flood crisis crews flew in excess of 83 hours to execute dozens of life saving rescues - a figure normally flown once every month.
In the first two days alone the Service's "Rescue 511" flew 1600 kilometres, saving families in the outer lying communities of Bundaberg, the Fraser Coast, Gladstone, Gympie, Maryborough, and North and South Burnett.
And while the other rescue helicopter's left the region last week, the AGL Action Rescue Helicopter remains in Bundaberg, assisting the community as it moves into recovery mode, there for its people still in need of an emergency medical and rescue helicopter.
In fact across its fleet of three helicopters AGL Action Rescue supports 700,000 people across a region reaching 100,000 square kilometres and stretching north to 1770, south to Redcliffe and from Kilcoy to Fraser Island and beyond.
Log on to www.actionrescue.com.au to support this life saving not-for-profit Rescue Service with a donation, every dollar counts.