Lee Duffield

Edited by Lee Duffield
Freedom and Truth

New research shows effects of helicopter rescues

AGL Action Rescue Service staff carry out winching tests at Sunshine Coast Airport. Photo: Jason Dougherty (Sunshine Coast Daily).

AGL Action Rescue Service staff carry out winching tests at Sunshine Coast Airport. Photo: Jason Dougherty (Sunshine Coast Daily).

Research conducted at the Sunshine Coast airport could lead to a national revolution in aero-medical treatments.

Nambour hospital medical staff have carried out tests which investigated whether helicopter rescues affect patients with heart conditions.

The tests involved winching up 15 volunteers in stretchers by helicopter to measure whether they experienced a rapid rise in heart rate.

The research, which is still ongoing, will assist staff of the AGL Action Helicopter Service in developing safer rescue techniques.

Nambour hospital doctor, research co-ordinator Darren Costello, said the tests are the first of their kind.

“I was doing a retrieval job up at Townsville and we were winching people with chest pain off Magnetic Island,” Dr Costello said.

“Knowing it’s a stressful event, there’s been no real research out there to see what happens to people’s heart rates during the winch operation- especially with chest pain.”

“We won’t know the full results until the statistical analysis done, but everyone’s heart rates have gone up so far. (The research) is looking hopeful.”

AGL Check and Training Air Crewman Rick Harvey said the research could have widespread benefits.

“I think (the research) will help everyone in aero-medical research, I’ve never seen it done before,” Mr Harvey said.

“Aero-medically across Australia it will be very interesting to see what effect winching people with heart conditions could have.”

Mr Harvey said winching is an important part of the rescue services AGL provide.

“The reason why we winch is either you can’t get to the person or it’s too dangerous to get them out.”

“(The tests) might affect the way the medical people treat the patients before they winch.”

“Instead of being reactive to something happening (when they winch), it might lead to medics being proactive if they feel they need to treat a specific condition.”

Test subject Paul Green said the winching increased his heart rate and he is interested to see the results of the tests.

“My heart rate went up, but it wasn’t pounding like it was going to come out of my chest,” he said.

“It was a good buzz. I think it’s a good idea what they’re doing.”

The AGL Action Rescue Helicopter Service operates out of bases at Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast.

The organisation is heavily involved in aero-medical intensive care transfers and search and rescue missions all over Queensland.