Ambulance Service of New South Wales
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Greater Sydney Area Helicopter Medical Service (GSAHEMS)

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About Us

NSW Ambulance's Greater Sydney Area Helicopter Emergency medical Service (GSA HEMS) is the largest retrieval service within the broader NSW aeromedical retrieval system. We carry out more than 3000 missions every year treating some of the state's sickest patients. With three helicopter bases located in Sydney, Wollongong and Orange, we are ready 24 hours a day to respond to calls following out-of-hospital trauma, as well as inter-hospital critical care retrievals on a variety of platforms including helicopters, road vehicles and fixed wing aircraft.

We operate three state-of-the-art Augusta Westland 139 and two Eurocopter 145 helicopters, which have the ability to perform a wide variety of missions, including crew winch operations (doctor and paramedic), search and rescue, and complex inter-hospital ICU transfers, such as, bariatrics, intra-aortic balloon pump (IABP) and extra-corporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO).

Augusta Westland 139 helicopter

 Eurocopter 145 helicopter

The Teams
Our helicopter medical teams consist of an experienced critical care physician, intensive care paramedic (ICP) - including Special Casualty Access Team (SCAT) paramedics - pilot and HEMS crewman. Our doctors are specialists in emergency and intensive care medicine and anaesthetics, or are senior trainees in those specialties with a specific focus and enhanced training in pre-hospital and retrieval medicine. Our paramedic staff are experienced ICPs, many with SCAT training, enabling them to access and treat patients in a wide range of challenging environments, from mountain canyons to ocean rescue.

The synergistic skill-set gives us the ability to manage any mission we respond to - from a remote bushland winch extraction to sophisticated critical care ICU transfers. Our road-based medical teams consist of an experienced critical care physician and ICP. Our fixed wing teams include critical care physicians and experienced flight nurses, who are based at Air Ambulance at Sydney Airport.

The Missions
On out-of-hospital missions, our aim is to bring the Emergency Department (ED) to the patient as soon as possible following trauma. We are equipped with advanced monitoring and treatment modalities, including the ability to perform out-of-hospital hospital emergency anaesthesia, provide advanced analgesia and sedation, perform a range of life-saving surgical interventions and even administer blood to haemorrhaging patients whilst transporting them to the most appropriate major trauma centre. We can access patients in remote bushland and from the water with our winch-equipped helicopters. We are routinely tasked to Triple Zero (000) calls prior to the arrival of other ambulance resources by the Rapid Launch Trauma Co-ordinator (RLTC) at the Medical Retrieval Unit (MRU).

On inter-hospital missions, our aim is to take the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) to the patient wherever they are in NSW. We provide advanced critical care and resuscitation to patients in small rural hospitals, as well as maintaining ICU level monitoring and management throughout their retrieval. We facilitate time-critical interventions and surgery in tertiary hospitals; and play a vital role in the ECMO Retrieval service, transfering patients with severe illness and who require heart or lung bypass machines to keep them alive.

sydney An Augusta Westland 139 helicopter hovers above the Sydney Opera House. Ambulance operates three of these helicopters, two in Sydney and one in Wollongong.