Workers from a Narangba business have built a world-first mobile health unit that will travel to remote areas across the state to help with the early detection of mine dust lung diseases.
The HEART 5 mobile health unit was built by Varley Group and took 18 months to build.
The $4 million facility contains an X-ray machine and a world-first battery powered high-resolution computerised tomography (CT) scanner that will test for black lung and silicosis.
Heart of Australia Founder Dr Rolf Gomes, along with the Minister for Resources Scott Stewart, attended the launch of the unit at the RNA Showgrounds on February 11.
Dr Gomes said all his trucks for Heart of Australia are built in Queensland, and that he has been working with the Varley Group for a decade.
“I’m really proud of this project because it has taken a lot of people to come together to develop something that is not only great for this state, but also for the country,” Dr Gomes said.
“It’s amazing we can build something of caliber right here in Queensland, and I’m really proud to have worked with Varley for 10 years.
“Also, through the collaboration of the project partners, the Queensland Government, Phillips and I-MED, this technology and innovation has been made possible.”
Dr Gomes said the ability to park the mobile health unit on the side of a mine or in a cane field meant everyone could access tests he calls the “bread and butter” of today’s health service.
“CT scans and X-rays are so common these days, so being able to deliver the mobile health unit to these regions is a big step,” he said.
“It also means people will no longer have to do a three-day round-trip and have those overnight expenses to access medical treatment.”
The delivery of HEART 5 is part of the Queensland Government’s response to the recommendations made by the Black Lung, White Lies report.
Queensland’s Minister for Resources Scott Stewart described the mobile health unit as “revolutionary”.
“HEART 5 is a revolutionary piece of technology that will bring high quality respiratory health screenings to mine and quarry workers in regional and remote parts of the state,” Mr Stewart said.
“This means workers won’t have to travel as far to access highly specialised services, ensuring earlier detection and intervention in cases of mine dust lung diseases like black lung and silicosis.
“The robust vehicle was constructed in Narangba to the highest standards, in order to withstand the wear and tear of travelling through rural Queensland”.
Following the launch, HEART 5 journeyed to the coal mining community of Collinsville to start screening current and former workers of mines and quarries.