They’re the men and women who rush to our aid in an emergency, but a small group of people are putting their lives at risk.
They’re the men and women who rush to our aid in an emergency, but a small group of people are putting their lives at risk.

Sneaky attacks on Aussie heroes

Rescue helicopters and air ambulances crews are being put under immense pressure as they are increasingly targeted by laser strikes, often while patients are on board.

In the past six months, RACQ LifeFlight's Queensland crews have been subject to five strikes.

In an often life-and-death situation, flight crews risk temporary blindness and loss of control, with Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg chopper crews reporting four separate laser strikes between March and September.

The community is being urged to be alert, and call the police if they see any illegal laser activity. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight Rescue
The community is being urged to be alert, and call the police if they see any illegal laser activity. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight Rescue

In 2019, four laser strikes were reported, five in 2018 and two in 2017.

RACQ LifeFlight is calling on the community to keep helicopter crews safe, urging people to report any dangerous use of laser pointers to police, director of quality and safety Jon Turley said.

"They're obviously doing a busy job, in a congested airspace, so having to deal with these kind of attacks is quite distracting and it puts the crews under pressure they don't need to be under," Mr Turley said.

"Majority of the time, it's a life or death situation, so flight crews being distracted and having to deal with this, does have an influence on their performance.

"Leave the lasers alone and let us do our job."

RACQ LifeFlight has noticed a spike in laser attacks on rescue helicopters and air ambulances in 2020. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight Rescue
RACQ LifeFlight has noticed a spike in laser attacks on rescue helicopters and air ambulances in 2020. Picture: RACQ LifeFlight Rescue

 

Exposure to lasers can result in long lasting eye damage, and in addition to the risk of flash blindness and loss of night vision, crew risk losing control of the aircraft.

A laser pointer is defined as a weapon in Australia and is punishable by law.

"People must understand laser pointers are not toys and can pose real risks to the safety of pilots and the aircraft they fly," Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said.

"Lasers must never be pointed at aircraft and anyone with a legitimate use for lasers must get the relevant approvals."

 

Originally published as Sneaky attacks on Aussie heroes


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