Ambulance Service of New South Wales
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Air Ambulance

Air Ambulance is a flying nursing and midwifery service operating on fixed wing aircraft out of our NSW Ambulance Mascot Airbase in Sydney. Our NSW Ambulance Flight Nurses, supported by the Aeromedical Control Centre, ensure our hardest to reach patients in regional and remote areas across the state receive  the medical care they require and transport to a hospital if necessary. Air Ambulance is the sole NSW Ambulance provider of fixed wing aeromedical transport across the state. On average we treat 14 patients a day or around 6,000 a year.

Our staff

At the centre of this complex medical operation is our NSW Ambulance flight nurses. The majority of missions are carried out by a highly qualified and specialised flight nurse/midwife, who is the sole clinician on board, providing expert medical care thousands of feet in the air. There are times where they are also accompanied by a NSW Ambulance specialist doctor. Our flight nurses also work in collaboration with our on-road paramedics, often picking up a patient who has been treated by our paramedics and then transporting this patient to hospital via aeroplane.

  • Registered nurses - All flight nurse/midwives have a minimum of five years post graduate care. All flight nurses have an Australian Qualification Framework of Level 8 or above. Most have bachelor degrees and a post graduate qualification as a minimum.
  • Registered midwives - All flight nurse/midwives must hold dual registrations in both nursing and midwifery. They diligently work to meet both their nursing and midwifery registrations; this continued professional development ensures they are at the cutting edge of service delivery.
  • Critical care and out of hospital specialists - All flight nurse/midwives have extensive experience or tertiary qualifications in a critical care area. Our flight nurses may have worked in emergency departments, intensive care or coronary care units.
  • Aviation specialists - All flight nurse/midwives are also certified cabin crew on the aircraft in which they operate. This means they are responsible for the cabin and flight safety of the aircraft and its passengers. They perform yearly safety and emergency training including the carriage of dangerous goods, ditching and fire-fighting.

What we do

  • Emergency care - We respond to high acuity patients. These are patients who have experienced significant trauma, cardiac conditions and other serious medical conditions.
  • Scheduled care - We provide support and care to patients who need to be transported from one facility e.g. hospital, to the other and they are not in an emergency situation. These patients generally require ongoing nursing care e.g. a stretcher, pain management or monitoring.
  • Critical care - These are patients which require considerable intervention to maintain their health. These patients include people with invasive devices, temporary pacing wires, they may be on vasoactive medications, or be in an induced coma on life support. Some of these patients may be transported in conjunction with a NSW Ambulance specialist doctor.
  • Specialised care - These are highly specialised cases which require significant innovation and adaption to enable the patient to be transported by aeroplane. Specialised care may include patients on cardiac bypass machines, patients who have a pump helping their heart to beat, overweight or obese patients and maternity and neonatal patients. We also work with the Newborn and paediatric Emergency Transport Service (NETS) to transfer critically ill and injured babies and children.

Our aeroplanes

We have two Raytheon Beechcraft King Air 350s and three Raytheon Beechcraft King Air 200s (pictured below). These planes have been modified and fitted out with a medical interior designed specifically for our flight nurses. The planes act as a flying resuscitation bay which can be customised to meet the patients' clinical needs. The cargo door and state of the art loading system allows for seamless entry and exit from the aircraft.

Raytheon Beechcraft King Air 350 Raytheon Beechcraft King Air 200

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.