CSG to keep regional medical service aloft

Queensland’s coal seam gas industry today announced a five-year funding extension for an aeromedical rescue service that has protected southern Queensland since 2011.

Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham today congratulated CSG proponents Santos, Shell’s QGC business, Origin and Arrow Energy for their commitment to keeping the Surat Gas Aero-Medical Service airborne until at least 2025.

“As we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis, a big part of our economic plan Unite and Recover for Queensland Jobs will be our traditional strengths like the resources sector,” he said.

“The CSG-LNG industry continues to deliver thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in business to Queenslanders here in the south-west.

“The ongoing support for LifeFlight means an integrated aviation and medical team are permanently on-call to provide round-the-clock emergency care for industry and communities.

“As a trauma surgeon, I know how much difference a rapid response service makes in emergency situations in remote areas.

“The SGAS Aero-Medical Service is one of the most visible ways the CSG industry puts back into the regional Queensland communities that support it.”

LifeFlight holds the SGAS contract and, through it, stations medically-configured AgustaWestland 139 helicopters at Roma and Toowoomba.

The four member companies welcomed the value of the new contract.

Mark Schubert, Integrated Gas Executive General Manager at Origin: “We’re committed to sharing the benefits of our activities in the communities where we operate. This is a strong example of how our industry supports a vital medical service for everyone across the region.”

Kevin Gallagher, Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer: This investment in vital regional medical services will save lives and protect lives. As an Australian company that supports the communities we operate in, Santos is proud to support improved health services for Queenslanders across the region.

SGAS Steering Committee Interim Chair Michael Todd: “The four SGAS-funding companies are proud of the lives it has saved amongst farming families, rural communities, travellers and tourists, and our own workers. We are delighted to be able to continue funding this service for the next five years, for everyone’s benefit.”

LifeFlight Chairman Rob Borbidge AO has welcomed the industry’s five-year commitment and says the need for immediate emergency response is imperative in remote areas both to the industry and to the broader south-western Queensland community.

“The SGAS members donate 150 hours to the community every year,” Mr Borbidge said.

“We value the role this partnership plays in helping to save lives across south-west Queensland.”

The updated agreement will see two state-of-the-art AgustaWestland AW139 choppers remain at LifeFlight’s Toowoomba and Roma bases.

“These aircraft are the most widely-used aeromedical rescue aircraft in Australia and are ideal for covering the great distances of the South West region,” Mr Borbidge said.

“With a sophisticated emergency medical service fit-out, the AW139 essentially operates as a mobile intensive care unit.”

The SGAS helicopters provide around-the-clock coverage for about 270,000km2 of southern Queensland,across eight council boundaries and a population of nearly 210,000 people.

The service was created to augment existing medical services by providing aeromedical coverage that in some areas was previously unavailable, not only for gas company workers, but also to the general community.

In 2019, the LifeFlight Surat Gas Aeromedical Service came to the aid of 76 people in Queensland’s south-west, including patients of Retrieval Services Queensland and the gas company workers.

Since the partnership began in 2011, LifeFlight’s SGAS helicopters, based in Roma and Toowoomba, have completed almost 700 missions.

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