A Careflight AW139 helicopter repainted in LifeFlight livery. (LifeFlight/Twitter)
Queensland’s CareFlight Group, operators of helicopter rescue and aeromedical jet retrieval services throughout the state, has been renamed LifeFlight to reflect the company’s current growth and renewal phase while helping to further delineate itself between a service in NSW with a similar name.
LifeFlight chairman Rob Borbidge made the renaming announcement in Brisbane on July 11 ahead of a special flypast over of the city and surrounding areas by three of its brand new AW139 helicopters wearing the updated LifeFlight brand to mark the occasion.
“LifeFlight was chosen because saving lives is what we’re all about and our patient focus and dedication to a total blanket of care for people in their hour of need all around the state won’t change,” said Borbidge.
“The change of name is also necessary to reduce confusion in the community and the market place with CareFlight New South Wales, which started around the same time as us, but which is a totally separate organisation and different charity from CareFlight Queensland.”
Now into its 35th year of operations, the group’s training and jet retrieval arms are now known as LifeFlight, while its community helicopter rescue services will continue to be known as RACQ LifeFlight, prefixed with its long-standing naming rights sponsor.
LifeFlight chief executive Ashley van de Velde, the driving force behind the creation and growth of CareFlight after starting as the company’s first aircrewman with the Gold Coast Helicopter Rescue Service in 1981, said the renaming comes as the group has seen a significant increase in mission responses.
“In 2015-16, CareFlight flew 1,864 missions from all of its Queensland community helicopter rescue bases, that’s a 32 per cent increase on 2014-15,” said van de Velde.
“Since 1981, we have flown 44,000 critical care missions and our core mission of saving lives and caring for people won’t miss a beat. Aside from the name, nothing else changes at LifeFlight.”
On April 8, the then CareFlight Queensland Group launched StarFlight Australia to provide EMS, SAR and firefighting helicopter services throughout Australasia in partnership with Kaan Air, a European utility operator and Finmeccanica Helicopters and Russian Helicopters distributor.
LifeFlight has published a video with Borbidge explaining the rebranding.