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Air Force evacuates 173 patients in Cairns mercy flights

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Issued by Ministerial and Executive Coordination and Communication, Department of Defence, Canberra, ACT Phone: 02 6127 1999, Fax: 02 6265 1545

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MECC 33/11 Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Air Force evacuates 173 patients in Cairns mercy flights

Air Force has completed a series of mercy flights from Cairns to Brisbane, evacuating hospital patients ahead of the arrival of Cyclone Yasi in northern Queensland.

Last evening, Air Force dispatched two C-130 Hercules from RAAF Base Richmond and two C-17A Globemasters from RAAF Base Amberley for Cairns.

Arriving in Cairns on board these aircraft, Aero-Medical Evacuation Teams from RAAF Bases Amberley, Williamtown and Richmond worked alongside Queensland Health representatives to load 173 patients from Cairns-area hospitals.

Aero-Medical Evacuation Teams loaded four high-dependency patients, 102 stretchered patients, 67 walking patients and two accompanying family members. Air Force liaison officers assisted in coordinating patient loading, as well as Mobile Air Load Teams who configured the aircraft as patient details became available.

Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Mark Binskin praised the efforts of Air Force personnel in conducting the mercy lift.

“This is a considerable effort within Air Force’s air-mobility and health-support community, which has responded at very short notice,” Air Marshal Binskin said.

“Extensive experience with aero-medical evacuation missions during Operations Bali and Tsunami Assist has assisted Air Force personnel in coordinating their efforts with local health agencies and delivered a positive outcome. I congratulate and thank all the Air Force personnel who responded to this short notice tasking, and who worked through the night to deliver these patients out of the path of Cyclone Yasi.

“As a part of the overall ADF response we remain committed to meeting any tasking that may arise once Cyclone Yasi has made landfall in northern Queensland, and will again be drawing on our experience in disaster-relief operations to support the Queensland community. At the same time, Air Force remains committed to meeting developing tasks at home and abroad.”

Media Note: Imagery of Air Force’s relief effort will be uploaded from midday to

Media contact: Defence Media Operations 02 6127 1999 or 0408 498 664