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.