On October 30 2023, we were tasked by NSW Ambulance to a cargo ship approximately 100 nautical miles off Newcastle to assist a crew member suffering from a medical condition. The man in his 30s was winched off the vessel by the critical care paramedic and flown to John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle.
For a rescue such as this, a long distance off our coastline, there is a vital coordination and support network that is in place, with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) providing ‘top cover’ or overwatch support to our aircraft and crew.
AMSA coordinated the medical evacuation of the crewman on board the Swiss-flagged bulk carrier MV Vindonissa, en route to New Zealand from Brisbane. The ship, which was located approximately 500 km east of Newcastle, was diverted closer to the coast to assist with the rescue. AMSA tasked its Essendon-based Challenger aircraft to provide top cover, while our aircraft and crew undertook the winch extraction of the crewman.
“The video was taken from the Challenger jet whilst conducting overwatch of the mission at 5000ft,” Rescue Helicopter Pilot Mark Overton said. “The Challenger aircraft was there to not only coordinate the rescue of the sick crew member on board the vessel, but also to overwatch the safety of the rescue helicopter and our crew. Of note, the Challenger stayed overhead, watching us for the entire 100 nautical mile trip back to land and the John Hunter Hospital. It’s kind of like having a big brother making sure you are safe.”
If we’ve piqued your interest about AMSA and the operations of their Challenger aircraft, you can find out more here