RAC Rescue helicopters

Every hour of every day – WA’s only 24/7 emergency rescue helicopter service.

Sponsored by RAC, funded by the State Government and managed by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) the RAC Rescue helicopters provide vital search and rescue and critical care medical services to the WA community.

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Celebrating 20 years of life saving missions

On the 11th August 2023 RAC Rescue will celebrate 20 years of service to the WA community.

Since the inception of the service back in 2003 the helicopters have completed over 9,500 rescue missions and flown more than 2 million kilometres across WA.

In this video we reflect on how the service has evolved in two decades and the impact it has made to so many West Australians.

On behalf of the WA community, we thank DFES and the RAC Rescue crew for 20 years of life saving missions.

RAC Rescue

RAC has been supporting WA’s only 24/7 emergency rescue helicopter service since 2003. Since then, the RAC Rescue helicopters have flown more than 9,500 missions.

The RAC Rescue helicopters respond to a wide range of emergencies including:

  • Land and maritime search and rescue
  • Road crash rescue
  • Industrial and agricultural rescue incidents
  • Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB), Personal Location Beacon (PLB) and Emergency Locater Transmitter (ELT) activations
  • Flood and cyclone rescue and relief missions
  • Aircraft crashes and incidents
  • Cliff and vessel helicopter hoist rescues

Other operations include aerial intelligence and reconnaissance, 24-hour disaster and incident aerial mapping operations, emergency personnel and equipment transport and Inter-Hospital Patient Transport.

A third RAC Rescue helicopter provides backup to ensure the two primary helicopters maintain an online status of more than 90 per cent. The backup helicopter can be mobilised to support All-Hazards rescue operations, as it did during the Carnarvon floods, Tropical Cyclone Seroja, Kimberley floods, and the Total Solar Eclipse in Exmouth. 

Service Area


On each mission, the RAC Rescue helicopters fly with a crew that includes a Pilot, an Aircrew Officer and a Critical Care Paramedic (CCP). The RAC recue crew can be airborne within 15 minutes of receiving a call.

RAC Rescue crew:

  1. The Pilot, who is contracted through CHC Helicopters Australia, is responsible for flying the RAC Rescue helicopter safely and efficiently into often challenging environments and giving the crew and CCP the best chance of reaching and aiding those in distress.
  2. The Aircrew Officer, who is contracted through CHC Helicopters Australia, manages confined area landings, hoist operations and assists the CCP and Pilot when needed. The Aircrew Officer also works with the Rescue helicopter’s state-of-the-art Forward Looking Infrared or ‘FLIR’ camera that can help locate people in distress at sea or in remote areas.
  3. The Critical Care Paramedic, who is contracted through St John Ambulance, provides emergency critical care directly at the incident scene in a pre-hospital environment. The CCP must often work with patients in some of the most logistically challenging emergency situations. Their key duty is to stabilise the patient and then transport them to a medical facility if required. CCP capabilities include: advanced airways management, rapid sequence induction and administration of drug and blood transfusion.

Latest Facts 
Over the past five years, the RAC Rescue helicopters have a yearly average of:

  • Flying 148,686 mission kilometres
  • Flying more than 1,683 hours
  • Completing 681 missions
  • Transporting 481 patients 
  • Responding to 329 road crash rescue incidents

On 4th May 2023, RAC Rescue completed its 9500th rescue mission since the inception of the service in August 2003. In that time over 6,500 patients have been transported and over 2 million kilometres travelled across WA.

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