LP Gas to the Rescue – Australian Helicopter Delivery

LPG is truly Exceptional Energy.  One of the exceptional things about LPG is that it can go virtually anywhere and in many ways.

Elgas is Australia’s largest supplier of LP Gas and a long standing member of the WLPGA.  Elgas goes to great lengths to provide good service to its customers but, in this case, they literally and figuratively went above and beyond expectations.

Elgas Team load the helicopter

In early February of this year, the little Australian town of Coopers Creek NSW was cut off from the rest of the world by a landslide across the only access road.  After about two weeks of isolation, the 140 residents of the area were getting desperate for essentials.  The NSW State Emergency Service (SES) helicopter was delivering food but the residents also needed LP Gas for their homes.  What could be done?

Elgas Team load the helicopter Enter Bruce Lyle, the local Elgas branch manager.  As chance would have it, Bruce was also a founding member of the SES Rescue Team in his home town in the 1980’s.

So, he contacted the SES and asked if they would be willing to deliver LP Gas by helicopter if Elgas worked out the details, including all of the safety issues.  The SES agreed.

As safety was the highest priority, Bruce went straight to the Elgas National Safety Manager, Steve Reynolds, who prepared a full Job Safety Analysis.  Detailed instructions were prepared.  Only after it was all completed was the mission judged as safe to proceed.

The SES Huey helicopter was utilised to airlift ten 45kg cylinders into the community.  A second Bell Jet Ranger helicopter was used to transport Bruce and Chris Gooley, another member of the Elgas team, as they were needed to supervise the airlift safety procedures and the installation of the cylinders.

At 10.30am, on 18 February, Bruce and Chis took a cylinder truck with stock on-board to Repentance Creek Hall, the helicopter loading site. The site was chosen as it was as close as they could safely get helicopters to the drop zone.  However, the flight time was still about 15-20 minutes each way.

Using advice and close consultation with Steve Reynolds, they stacked and strapped the load together, as one bundle, into a cargo net. The load was then flown and the lowered to the ground very gently.  The cylinders were stood upright and checked promptly after the landing.

Bruce and Chris flew from the loading point to a paddock and then, after a walk and a 4WD ride, they arrived at Coopers Creek School, which had been closed due to the landslide.

Arrival of the helicopter and Elgas cylinders being unhooked and uprighted after landing

Here they met with local residents who were grateful to see them, including several people waiting for gas. Chris delivered cylinder handling and connection training to four of the townspeople who would oversee all of the connections.  Once trained on the school’s cylinders, they were supplied with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), MSDS documentation and all of the appropriate signage, with which they erected an emergency depot.

After the delivery, when everything was determined to be safe and secure, Bruce and Chris flew back in the Jet Ranger to Repentance Creek. Later, much to their surprise, they found themselves on the Australian 6 o’clock news.

Chris Gooley, Elgas, gives safety training

The NSW State Emergency Service is volunteers excelling in emergency management.  The SES & pilots were very professional, thorough and extremely safety conscious.  Without them, and their know-how, none of this would ever have been possible.  They are the true heroes of this exceptional LP Gas story.  Many thanks go to the men and women who volunteer to serve in the NSW SES organisation.

Finally, congratulations from the WLPGA to the entire Elgas organisation for their initiative in this amazing story and for proving, once again, that LP Gas is unquestionably Exceptional Energy.

Eric Hahn, Elgas,