Ambulance Service of New South Wales
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The first recognised ambulance service in New South Wales, known as the Civil Ambulance and Transport Brigade, commenced operations on 1 April 1895. The first ambulance station was a borrowed police station in Railway Square, Sydney staffed by two permanent officers. Patients were transported on hand-held stretchers and handlitters.

The Brigade was a dedicated community based organisation, operating the first horsedrawn ambulance in 1899 and first motor vehicle in 1912, both donated to the Brigade by the public. Radio controlled vehicles commenced operation in 1937, a rescue service in 1941, a training school in 1961 and Air Ambulance in 1967. Advanced life support and intensive care vehicles were introduced in 1976.

Over 100 years on, we now employs over 3,700 staff, operates from 266 different locations across the State, boasts over 800 ambulances, 300 support vehicles, four fixed wing aircraft and tasks nine helicopters.

The people of New South Wales can be justifiably proud of the ambulance service they have built, and the dedicated men and women who continue the traditions of excellence in pre-hospital care.

Read about the interesting history of the Maltese Cross.

Ambulance celebrates 25 years of Special Casulty Access Team Paramedics in 2011

This year marks the 25th Anniversary since the establishment of the Special Casualty Access Team (SCAT).

First formed in 1986 due to the need for paramedics to be able to provide high quality pre-hospital care to patients in any location, SCAT has expanded to include over 60 specialists who've undertaken intense training in areas 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.

One of the first jobs SCAT officers responded to was a girl trapped at the Grill Cave, Bungonia in the Southern Tablelands of NSW. She was 240 metres underground and had been trapped by a two half tonne rock which had fallen on her leg, badly fracturing it. SCAT officers were flown by Police fixed wing aircraft to Goulburn and then transported to the incident site. It took officers eight hours to extricate the patient.

SCAT have responded to numerous incidents over the past quarter of a century. Here are a few cases that stand out:

  • Grafton bus crash (October 1989) Pacific Highway, North Coast of NSW - a loaded semi-trailer collided with a passenger bus travelling in the other direction, 20 people died.
  • The Clybucca Flat bus crash (December 1989) Pacific Highway, 12 kilometres north of Kempsey - two full tourist coaches collided head-on, killing 35 people and injuring 41.
  • Newcastle earthquake (December 1989) - a Richter magnitude 5.6 earthquake occurred, becoming one of Australia's most serious natural disasters, killing 13 and injuring more than 160.
  • Thredbo landslide (July 1997) - two ski lodges collapsed when approximately 3,500 tonnes of debris shifted below the Alpine Way, a main road above Thredbo Village, travelling down the slope taking with it the Carinya Ski Lodge and eventually slamming into an elevated car park and the Bimbadeen Lodge,18 people died.
  • Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami which killed hundreds of thousands on Boxing Day 2004 devastating parts of Indonesia, including Banda Aceh and Sri Lanka.

Our Proud Past

Click on any image below to display a larger image with text.

1880 - 1890

1890 - 1900

1900 - 1910


1910 - 1920

1920 - 1930


1930 - 1940

1940 - 1950

1950 -1960


1960 - 1970


1970 - 1980

1980 - 1990



1990 - 2000

2000 - 2002

2002 - 2004

2004 - 2005

2006 - 2007

2007 - 2008

2008 - 2009

2009 - 2010

2010 - 2011

2011 - 2012

ib au history

Proud past - dynamic future.

Ambulance has a rich and diverse history, celebrating its centenary in 1995. Scroll through the images in our interactive timeline to trace the development of the Ambulance Service of NSW or read more about the eight pointed cross with the Ambulance logo.