16 August 2012
Enhanced capability for EMQ helicopters
The Emergency Management Queensland (EMQ) Helicopter Rescue Service, which conducts countless search and rescue activities and transfers each year, has received a substantial upgrade from mining company Rio Tinto.
Minister for Police and Community Safety Jack Dempsey and Rio Tinto Chief Executive, Energy, Doug Ritchie today announced all aircraft would now have the capacity to carry an additional 400 kilograms of weight which can be used for extra equipment, personnel or fuel.
The funds for the upgrade and a number of other features including an enhanced ground warning system were purchased with the first $1 million of a $10 million, 10 year sponsorship by Rio Tinto of the EMQ Helicopter Rescue Service.
"This upgrade will make all the difference in an emergency, as an extra 400 kilograms of fuel will enable the crew to fly for an extra hour or approximately 260 kilometres further when it's needed," Mr Dempsey said.
Mr Dempsey said the crews, based in Brisbane, Townsville and Cairns, log around 3,500 hours of flying time across Queensland each year responding to countless search and rescue activities, assisting other agencies and reaching people who in most cases would only survive if retrieved by air support.
"Many Queenslanders would also recall the valuable work the Brisbane-based EMQ helicopter service undertook during the Queensland floods, rescuing multiple flood victims and resupplying communities who were isolated for months on end," he said.
"These activities are often in unpredictable weather in which the helicopters can use up to an hour's holding fuel just waiting for the weather to pass.
"The additional weight capacity now available means the helicopters will be able to operate for longer in these conditions.
Rio Tinto's sponsorship of $1 million a year over 10 years is in addition to the State Government's funding of the fleet's operating costs.
Mr Ritchie said the partnership between Rio Tinto and the EMQ Helicopter Rescue Service was very important to Rio Tinto and represented the company's commitment to community safety beyond the mine gate.
"Safety is a core value for Rio Tinto and we're very proud to be a valued partner of the EMQ Helicopter Rescue Service and to support the vital work they do," Mr Ritchie said.
"The EMQ Helicopter Rescue Service plays a vital role in the lives of Queenslanders and this capacity upgrade will mean help for even more people who may find themselves needing assistance.
"Queensland is a place Rio Tinto has called home for more than 50 years and this sponsorship reinforces our enduring safety commitment to all Queenslanders, not just those who work at our operations.
"This partnership is also a valuable opportunity for our organisations to share best practice in many areas including health and safety.
"Our commitment to the EMQ Helicopter Rescue Service is long term and over the next 10 years we want to see the operations of this vital service enhanced further."
The weight increase is just one of a number of features which have been purchased this year through the Rio Tinto funding, which is used to purchase additional items for the helicopter service above and beyond its operating expenses.
Mr Dempsey said EMQ has also been able to add an Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System, a safety installation which enhances low level winching and search and rescue capabilities at night in high terrain areas.
Rio Tinto media contact
0438 787 038
About Rio Tinto
Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK, combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and New York Stock Exchange listed company, and Rio Tinto Limited, which is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.
Rio Tinto's business is finding, mining, and processing mineral resources. Major products are aluminium, copper, diamonds, thermal and metallurgical coal, uranium, gold, industrial minerals (borax, titanium dioxide and salt) and iron ore. Activities span the world and are strongly represented in Australia and North America with significant businesses in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America.