In September I attended an event to celebrate the arrival of Nautilus Aviation's Bell 412EP multipurpose helicopter, a magnificent piece of equipment that is solely for emergency purposes in Far North Queensland.
The $7 million aircraft is kitted out with everything needed for emergency services, flood and cyclone relief and search and rescue.
Nautilus worked with Queensland Fire and Emergency Services to acquire the helicopter and train up its crew. It is intended to be a back-up for those times when the Queensland Government Air rescue helicopter is not available due to servicing or being out on another call.
Queensland Government Air provides a wonderful service, but there have been three occasions since 2015 when the helicopter has been unavailable to attend fatal incidents on the Great Barrier Reef due to unscheduled maintenance.
The most recent occasion was last Wednesday, when two French tourists suffered heart attacks whilst snorkelling on the reef.
When lives are at stake, politics has to be put aside. Nautilus is no threat to Queensland Government Air but can fill a critical gap in service when Queensland Government Air is not available.
I have spoken to the Nautilus CEO Aaron Finn and I have absolute confidence in their service. I strongly urge Queensland Government Air to engage with Nautilus to take advantage of the assistance they are offering.