For 15 years the State Government managed RAC Rescue
helicopter service has been a beacon of hope for many Western Australian’s experiencing
a life threatening emergency.
The milestone was celebrated recently with an event to
acknowledge everyone who has had a hand in helping keep this critical service
in the air.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Assistant
Commissioner Gary Gifford ESM said the helicopters, based in Perth and Bunbury,
provide a vital service that increases patients’ chance of survival so they can
return home to their loved ones.
The service is one of a kind in WA and responds to injured
or ill people who have been involved in road crashes, accidents, and search and
rescue operations across both metropolitan and regional areas. With a St John
Ambulance critical care paramedic on board along with experienced CHC
Helicopter pilots and crewmen, the service has meant the difference between
life and death for many.
“Since the inaugural flight in August 2003, the two RAC
Rescue helicopters have completed more than 6,000 missions and have flown more
than 1.2 million kilometres,” Assistant Commissioner Gifford said.
“The service significantly reduces the time a patient has
access to critical care meaning higher survival rates, reduced hospitalisation
periods, shorter rehabilitation times, and better patient and community
“I commend everyone who has played their part in ensuring
this service can benefit the WA community including RAC who have proudly
supported the service since inception.”
Laretta Roney is thankful for the role the RAC Rescue
helicopter played in saving her life in 2014 after she was involved in a car
crash in Elgin.
"When the vehicle stopped spinning my ex-partner looked
over to see if I was alright and I wasn't sitting in my seat and he could see
me unconscious," Laretta said.
"Another vehicle arrived and he rang 000 and said look
we're going to need the helicopter, we're going to need ambulances. He said it's
"They're the angels in the sky they truly are and I'm
very, very thankful. Very thankful."
The RAC Rescue helicopters are funded by the State
Government with an annual investment of $16.8 million.
The Bunbury helicopter is funded by the Royalties for
Regions program, and both helicopters are managed by the Department of Fire and
Emergency Services and have been sponsored by the RAC since the service began.