Help from above

Joondalup St John Ambulance station manager Jason Boschin.
Joondalup St John Ambulance station manager Jason Boschin.

St John Ambulance Joondalup station manager Jason Boschin began working on the RAC helicopter seven years ago.

He said it was a highly sought-after position.

‘It’s definitely hard work; they don’t send us up for broken fingers and ingrown toenails,’ Mr Boschin said.

‘The average distance from the heli down to the ocean is about 60 feet and the winch goes at 250 feet per minute.

‘It is literally a free-fall when I’m going down and they can winch me up in just a few seconds.’

Mr Boschin said the emergency rescue helicopter went out to car accidents, cliff and ocean rescues and regional accidents and usually stayed within 200km of Perth.

‘There’s a tender up to buy a second helicopter now because this one has gone from strength to strength,’ he said.

‘We’ve probably got the best equipment and helicopter in Australia.

‘We’re the envy of the Royal Flying Doctor Service.’

Although he has always been wary of heights, Mr Boschin said there was no time to waste feeling afraid or uncertain.

‘The training program is incredibly detailed because there’s space for only one paramedic on the heli, so you’ve got to trust yourself implicitly to make the right decisions in the moment,’ he said.

‘The first time you go up is pretty stressful; it’s a daunting experience but you build confidence quickly.

‘I’ve got eight weeks in the heli and eight weeks on the ground, so it’s really full-on physically and mentally. The average time people spent in this position is about six years so I’m looking to finish soon. It’s a young man’s game, that’s just the nature of the job.’