Ambulance Service of New South Wales
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Emergency Operations

Responding to Triple Zero (000) calls and providing emergency medical assistance is our primary responsibility. Our team of highly skilled paramedics and intensive care paramedics provide pre-hospital care, medical retrieval and health related transport.

Supporting our front line paramedics deliver emergency medical care are a number of special operational units including aeromedical and medical retrieval services, counter disaster, rapid response, rescue, snow and special casualty access teams.

Aeromedical and Medical Retrieval Services

Aeromedical and medical retrieval services deliver a range of critical services including statewide air transport and clinical care of patients from out-of-hospital locations and between hospitals. The co-ordination of these services take place in the Aeromedical Control Centre.

Helicopter Operations

  • Urgent responses to major accidents, emergencies and neo-natal cases are usually provided by helicopters. There are 11 helicopters located at eight locations throughout NSW and are typically manned by a doctor and specially trained paramedic (as well as the pilot and crew). Most are available 24 hours a day.
  • Typical emergency scenarios include serious motor vehicle accidents where specialist on-scene medical care is required, rescues requiring a winch (water, cliff and rugged terrain) and patients in remote areas where the speed of a helicopter will result in the patient reaching the best hospital more quickly.
  • Helicopter retrieval incorporates both out-of-hospital rescue and interhospital transfer services across the State.
  • Helicopter services operate from Sydney and rural bases at Canberra, Orange, Tamworth, Newcastle, Wollongong and Lismore.


Fixed Wing Aircraft

  • The majority of our patients are transported by our air ambulance service which operates 24 hours a day and is located at Mascot Airport.
  • A fleet of four Beechcraft Super Kingair B200c, pressurised turbo prop twin engined aircraft, are contracted through the Royal Flying Doctors Service and fly patients throughout NSW and to locations in Victoria and Queensland providing specialist emergency support for rural and remote communities.
  • The clinical condition of a patient determines if the transfer is on an urgent or routine basis.
  • Each flight is crewed by a flight nurse and pilot.


Health Emergency Management Unit (was CDU)

  • The Health Emergency Management Unit involves specialised NSW Ministry of Health and Ambulance Service personnel working together to address aspects of health disaster planning and response, including responding to terrorism events.
  • The role of the Unit today is to ensure NSW Ministry of Health is prepared to respond effectively to major health emergencies and disasters as well as support the health aspects of major events within NSW.
  • The response to terrorism or major events is under the functions of the Special Operations Unit.


Rapid Response

  • Our rapid response service consists of mobile single paramedic units, operating in urban areas.
  • They are not based particular locations but are directed by our operations centre to stand by within areas that have a high workload.
  • This allows rapid response units to respond quickly to life threatening emergencies and commence treatement prior to the arrival of an ambulance.
  • If transport is not required, rapid response paramedics are able to provide medical treatment, freeing up front line ambulances to respond to other emergencies.
  • Rapid response operations are widely practised around the world and have been shown to be effective in providing early patient intervention and reducing response times.


Rescue Operations

  • NSW Ambulance operates six primary rescue units in rural areas across the state.
  • Rescue paramedics are trained for all types of rescue including, road crash, vertical, confined space, trench and industrial. They learn navigation skills, four wheel driving, urban search and rescue, and chemical biological and radiological procedures.
  • NSW Ambulance rescue vehicles are equipped with specialised equipment including motorised hydraulic tools, air tools, hand held global positioning satellite units, fibre optic search scopes, portable atmospheric testing units and lighting and breathing apparatus.


Snow Operations

  • We operate a fully functional ambulance station at Perisher Valley during the winter season (June long weekend to October long weekend).
  • Paramedics are fully trained in all aspects of snowfield work including the use of all oversnow vehicles and respond to all types of emergencies throughout the region.
  • Our fleet of vehicles at Perisher Valley Station include four snowmobiles, a 4WD Mercedes and a 4WD Landcruiser with mattracks, a quad bike and Kassbroher oversnow vehicle.


Special Casualty Access Team

  •  Special Casualty Access Team (SCAT) was first formed in 1986, from the need for paramedics to be able to provide high quality pre-hospital care to patients in any location.
  • SCAT paramedics have undertaken specialist training which covers competencies such as survival, bushcraft, basic and advanced roping, caving, canyoning, mountaineering, mines rescue, leadership, teamwork, chemical biological and radiological procedures, four wheel driving, navigation and white water survival.
  • They are taught to be self sufficient and often ‘camp out' with their patients when weather or operational conditions dictate a need to ‘stay put' for a period.
  • SCAT paramedics support rescue squads, specialist police units and fire brigades in HAZMAT; work on helicopters and access and treat patients in caves, canyons, mines, and on cliff ledges.

Special Operations Team

Our Special Operations Team are highly trained in vertical access (cliff and building), breathing apparatus including fully encapsulated gas suits CBR, confined space, bushcraft, navigation and 4WD, swift water, helicopter awareness and multi-agency training. They also provide clinical support to Rural Fire Service, NSW Fire Brigades, NSW Police units including bomb disposal and Public Order Riot Squad.

Special Operations Teams deploy to multicasualty incidents and disasters. While other agencies may be trained to do similar, the very important distinction is the staff of the NSW Ambulance also provide life saving medical intervention to those who are lost, trapped or in a precarious situation.

090615helicopter The Ambulance Service of NSW is unique from any other ambulance service as our front line staff have the opportunity to specialise into diverse areas such as Rescue, Special Casualty Access Team (SCAT), Aeromedical services, Snow operations, Rapid Response, Counter Disaster and Patient Transport Service.