New CareFlight Doctors put to the test on the Gold Coast

NINETEEN newly recruited CareFlight doctors got a taste of life on the front line today when they underwent helicopter winch training on the Gold Coast (Image: RACQ CareFlight)

The daring exercise was part of an intensive training week before the registrars officially begin placements as critical care doctors on emergency aircraft across Queensland next week.

Today’s training, performed at the Gold Coast Airport, saw the recruits learn double winching and stretcher winching – the two main types of winch rescues performed regularly by RACQ CareFlight Rescue crews.


“These doctors are fresh from the hospital environment. They need to learn how to bring their exceptional skills to the front line of emergency air-medical care,” Instructor Matthew O’Rourke said.

“We run through a range of rescue scenarios to ensure the doctors are well equipped to operate as they would in a hospital intensive care unit – except it might be on the side of a road, or on a mountaintop,” he said.

The week long training is provided by CareFlight’s HEMS Academy based at Varsity Lakes.

In addition to the winch training, the recruits will also undergo Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET), theory lessons and road crash scenarios to ensure they are familiar with all situations encountered out in the field.

CareFlight employs more than 120 doctors, nurses and medical support staff to fly on board Queensland’s rescue and retrieval aircraft, including CareFlight’s fleet of 11 medically configured helicopters, two air ambulance Lear jets, five other community rescue helicopters and the renown Royal Flying Doctors aircraft.

“These specialist doctors are recruited from the best hospitals across the globe,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“On average our CareFlight doctors attend to more than 10 patients a day.”

The new intake of doctors will be stationed at aero-medical bases around Queensland including the Gold Coast, Gladstone, Sunshine Coast, Roma, Toowoomba, Brisbane, Townsville, Cairns, Mackay and Rockhampton.