CHC Helicopter Search and Rescue Team Recognized for Rescue off W.A Coast

CHC Helicopter RAC Rescue

CHC Helicopter’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services Team Accept Commendation Award for Challenging Search and Rescue Operation

CHC Helicopter’s Australian head office announced Friday that the aircrew of Bunbury, Western Australia based Rescue 651 were recognised with a Commendation Award at the National Search and Rescue Awards, held in the Australian captial, Canberra recently.

The award given commends the CHC Helicopter’s pilot and aircrew, along with a St John Ambulance paramedic, for the rescue of a 27-year-old man with a broken leg off the vessel ‘Fatal Attraction’ near Israelite Bay, Western Australia on November 6, 2016.

In 90km (55MPH) winds and heavy swell, Pilot Craig Bowman, Aircrew Garth Fitzgerald and Critical Care Paramedic Ben Harris retrieved the injured fisherman using a winch transfer from the vessel, which was off the southern coast of Western Australia, some 800km (500m) from the crew’s Jandakot base in Perth.

CHC Helicopter provides search and rescue helicopters to the government through the RAC Rescue service located in Bunbury, Western Australia in addition to providing all of Australia's defence forces with search and rescue services. Photo by Ryan Mason
CHC Helicopter provides search and rescue helicopters to the government through the RAC Rescue service located in Bunbury, Western Australia in addition to providing all of Australia’s defense forces with search and rescue services. Photo by Ryan Mason

The crew, who are part of the team that operate Western Australia’s rescue helicopter service on behalf of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, were tasked with the rescue at just after 1430 on the afternoon of November 6, and reached the vessel at 1830.

The crew had about 10 minutes before last light to winch Paramedic Ben Harris onto the vessel, splint the injured man’s leg and winch Mr Harris and the patient back onto the Bell 412 helicopter. With ground support assistance from Esperance Volunteer Marine Service,State Emergency Service volunteers and DFES personnel, RAC Rescue Helicopter 651 was able to land in the remote town of Condingup about 60km east of Esperance, before flying aided by NVG’s to to Esperance on the West Australian coast where he could be transfered by Royal Flying Doctor Service aircraft to the Royal Perth Hospital a further 260km (161M) north.

“We are thrilled that our dedicated and experienced crew, in conjunction with St John Ambulance, have been recognised with a national award from NATSAR Council,” said Vincent D’Rozario, Regional Director, CHC Asia Pacific. Not a day goes by when there aren’t incredible SAR operations all over the world that fly under the radar. Our crews have saved so many lives and we are thankful to the NATSAR Council for holding these awards to acknowledge the terrific work that is done by search and rescue teams every day.”

CHC Helicopter Australia General Manager Vince D'Rozario
CHC Helicopter Australia General Manager Vince D’Rozario. Photo by Ryan Mason

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