Queensland Surf Lifesaving’s Westpac helicopter rescue service

Queensland Surf Lifesaving’sWestpac helicopter rescue service

Surf Life Saving Queensland’s Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter service is one of the oldest community-based helicopter rescue services in the world, and in 2017 it’s celebrating its 40th anniversary. The service has been operating across southeast Queensland since 1976. With a highly trained team of skilled men and women, the single function of the organisation is to save lives. Thanks to the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service, Surf Life Saving Queensland (SLSQ) can patrol a vast area of Queensland’s coastline from Rainbow Beach to the north of Noosa Heads right through to Rainbow Bay on the NSW border, patrolling the southeast Queensland coast and carrying out beach surveillance, shark warnings, preventative actions, missingperson searches and rescues. It’s a critical service for the community and tourists alike in Australia’s most popular Summer playground, the Gold Coast. Chief Pilot Paul Gibson is a passionate advocate for the service and recently hooked up with the team at Sidchrome to solve one of their less obvious issues: tool storage. “We do a lot of maintenance and work on our choppers ourselves,” he said, “and using our own tools we tend to be a bit less organised. So I decided to talk to the guys at Sidchrome about helping out.”


Dan Keyse, who heads up Sidchrome, knew just what was needed: the iconic ‘big red boxes’ – Sidchrome roller cabinets. “We do a fair bit of work in aerospace,” said Keyse, “And a staple of the Aussie workshop is our ‘big red boxes’. “We knew exactly what Paul needed when he walked us through it, so we sent some wall cabinets and seven-drawer rollers for the hangers on the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast.” Dan dropped by the Carrara hanger to see how the roller cabinets worked out for Paul and the team, and while he was there the guys gave him an outline of their immense capabilities. Dan also got a look over their fleet, which includes a Eurocopter EC135 – call sign ‘Lifesaver 45’ – based at Carrara to service the Gold Coast region. A BO105 – ‘Lifesaver 46’ – is based at Caloundra and services the Sunshine Coast. Combined, the bases are serviced by eight pilots, 14 aircrew and 22 rescue crew, with four full-time crew and 26 volunteer surf lifesavers. Both helicopters patrol every weekend and during peak periods, including school holidays. They’re also available to be tasked by emergency-service organisations seven days a week. Sidchrome exec Keyse pointed out his personal belief in the helicopter rescue service. “I’m a big fan of hitting the beach for summer and the thought of Paul and his team watching out from above makes me feel safe,” he said