Rescue helicopter at risk

AGL Action Rescue Helicopter staff fear the service could be grounded permanently next year after it failed to gain extra funding in this week's State Budget.

Chief executive David Donaldson said his months-long lobbying of government ministers and officials had failed.

"We expect to be able to continue into mid next year, but not after that unless something changes," he said.

Mr Donaldson said the service was in a financial crisis.

"If something happens to one of our choppers, it could be a multimillion-dollar cost," he said.

The service has one aircraft and about seven staff in Bundaberg.

Mr Donaldson said operating costs for the service, which has bases in Bundaberg and the Sunshine Coast, was about $8.49 million a year.

State Government provided about 60% of this, leaving the rescue helicopter service to find about $3.5 million a year.

Over the past few years, the service had been falling short of its funding target and in the last financial year had been about $400,000 short.

"It's simply not sustainable past the next 12 months," Mr Donaldson said.

He said the rescue service covered an area as far north as Seventeen Seventy and west to Mundubbera and Monto.

It did three to four jobs a day between its two bases, and costs in a single day could be up to $30,000.

About half of its flights were hospital transfers, often from smaller country hospitals to regional centres or to hospitals in Brisbane. The helicopters also attended accidents in the area they covered.

Queensland Health did not respond to requests for comment.



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