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One of LifeFlight’s longest-serving staff members has been honored for his unwavering contribution to the organisation. Chief medical officer, Doctor Allan MacKillop, was awarded the Life Membership at LifeFlight’s Annual General Meeting.
Deputy chair of the LifeFlight board, Hon. Jim Elder, moved the motion in recognition of MacKillop’s ongoing loyalty and support of the organisation.
Affectionately known as Dr. Al, inside the halls of LifeFlight, the Gold Coast-based doctor has been helping people — both in the air and on the ground — since the charity’s conception.
LifeFlight’s CEO, Ashley van de Velde, said he couldn’t think of a better person to help pioneer aeromedical services in Queensland. “Dr. Al’s loyalty, dedication and humility go to the heart of what we set out to do all those years ago.”
In the mid ’80s, he was one of the few doctors who volunteered their medical services to the community rescue helicopter service. “At the time I would travel with my own rescue medical equipment in my own car, so I started an advanced medical care service by default because I was asked to do it so often,” MacKillop said.
“It got to the point where the ambulance gave me a flashing red light on a magnet to put on the roof of the car, which was very unusual in those days.”
MacKillop’s mode of transport soon became a helicopter, as he took to the skies with LifeFlight to assist patients who had been involved in serious accidents and help them get to emergency medical treatment quickly.
Decades on, there’s no doubt that he’s touched thousands of lives.
“I appreciate the hard work that takes place each and every day, here at LifeFlight, and I’m just thankful that we can make an improvement on what could be the worst day of someone’s life,” he said at the meeting.
MacKillop has seen the rescue helicopter service grow from just one aircraft, to a fleet of 10, along with two fixed-wing air ambulance jets.
“The first helicopter was very small, the patient’s head was always sitting between the doctor’s knees and feet – it was very, very cramped. We had a single pilot and an ambulance officer,” said MacKillop.
In thanking the board for his award, Allan said he is always surprised by the passion there is for this organization.
“I want to personally thank Clive Berghofer for his support in originally placing a helicopter in Toowoomba, and, now, for his generosity in funding a new Toowoomba base.”
Over the past 37 years, LifeFlight has saved more than 49,000 lives and now covers 41 council regions in Queensland and northern New South Wales, servicing 75 percent of the state’s population.
It’s not the first time MacKillop has been honored for his lifesaving work; in April he carried the Queen’s Baton through the Gold Coast, after being winched to the ground by a LifeFlight helicopter.
MacKillop told the board, the work he has done with the rescue service is an immense personal accomplishment.
“It’s an honor to be a part of this organization,” he said.
The 2017-2018 financial year was a record year for LifeFlight for lifesaving missions with its aeromedical crews, community helicopters and air ambulance jets performing a record 5,452 missions throughout Queensland and around the world.
LifeFlight is a community-based charity funded and supported by the LifeFlight Foundation.