Flying two injured children from a car crash near Lithgow 30 years ago this month began CareFlight’s journey to becoming an Australian aeromedical icon.

One of those originals is CareFlight director Ian Badham who said CareFlight went online just 12 weeks after they made the decision to set up the aeromedical charity in 1986.

“30 years ago I came in as the inaugural chairman of our group who had a shared dream to bring a hospital standard of care to the road side. The concept of medical retrieval by helicopter was untried then, so it took hard work and sheer determination to bring a specialist standard of medicine to the air,” said Mr Badham.

“Three decades on, we’ve come a long way from the single engine Squirrel helicopter sponsored by HCF, flying a few patients a month to now one of the largest aeromedical organisations in the country caring for more than 5,000 patients every year.”

Since 1986, CareFlight has treated 50,000 patients – babies, children and adults. We currently operate 12 aircraft including helicopters, King Air turbo-prop aircraft and medi-jets, with major operations in Darwin and Sydney transporting critically ill patients across Australia and internationally.

One of our patients is Simon Gasper who was treated by CareFlight twice after very serious car and motorbike crashes in 2001 and 2011.

“I owe my life to CareFlight. Not only did they rescue me following a car crash in 2001 where I sustained serious injuries, but 10 years later, when I was involved in a motorbike crash, CareFlight flew to my aid again,” said Mr Gasper.

“CareFlight holds a very special place in my heart and myself, my wife and family are very grateful to CareFlight for saving my life twice.”

CareFlight’s Sydney based operations include the rapid response helicopter which can be in the air just four minutes after a Triple Zero (000) call for help.

The aeromedical charity, in conjunction with the Newborn and paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS), also transports sick babies and toddlers in need of life-saving treatment, from regional hospitals in NSW to larger specialised centers in Sydney, Newcastle and Canberra.

In the Northern Territory, CareFlight operates the Top End Medical Retrieval Service which provides medical rescue and retrieval services on behalf of the NT Government.

“In 1986 we wanted to take the expertise of a major hospital out to the patient, instead of expert treatment having to wait until a patient made it to a hospital – whether that treatment is at the side of the road, in a canyon, on the edge of a cliff or on a boat,” Mr Badham said.

“Our vision has always been to save lives, speed recovery and serve the community and I’m proud to say that still remains at the core of our operations today.

“Innovation and education have always been an integral part of our success and we continue to deliver training to our own doctors, nurses and aviation crew as well as other medical professionals and emergency service volunteers across Australia through our various MediSim education courses.

“CareFlight has always relied on the support of the community and local business to ensure we deliver this life- saving service. We thank the community, all our sponsors and the mums and dads who have raised money for us over the past 30 years. We hope they continue to support us for another 30.”