Technology: New South Wales (NSW) Ambulance: New fleet of ambulance aircraft to take to the skies
Five state-of-the-art New South Wales (NSW) Ambulance aircraft are set to take to the skies across the state, providing even better care for rural and regional areas. Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW, Paul Toole, said the new fleet would provide a major boost to NSW Ambulance’s fixed wing operations, improving patient transport speeds and reaching even more areas of the state. “These aircraft are like hospitals in the sky and they can get to some of the most remote regions of the state and land at both commercial airports and smaller runways,” Deputy Premier Toole said. Minister for Regional Health Bronnie Taylor said the brand new fleet of Beechcraft King Air 350C aircraft would be operated and maintained by Pel-Air under a 10-year contract. NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dr Dominic Morgan said the medical fit-out on-board was tailored to the clinician’s needs and could pick up more than 6 000 patients every year.
“Our flight nurses, doctors and pilots are among the best in the country and they helped in the design of what is essentially their office. Their expertise and some of the best planes available means it is a perfect fit for everyone, especially our patients”, Dr Morgan said. “Their expertise and some of the best planes available means it is a perfect fit for everyone, especially our patients.”
Senior flight nurse Chris Wildey said it was an exciting change for the ambulance service that would improve its capability. “We have the ability to travel a lot higher and faster,” he said. “We have the ability to do our special missions far better.”
He said staff helped design the cabin fit-outs, including the addition of windows so patients can enjoy views from the aircraft. “That’s really good from a patient point of view when they’re feeling pretty ordinary and having an otherwise sub-optimal experience,” he said.
The aircraft began operation on 1 January 2022 and will replace the current fleet operated out of the Mascot Airbase by the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS).
“This new fleet will be an absolute game changer, offering the technology, comfort and fuel efficiency never before seen in a NSW Ambulance aircraft,” Minister Taylor said.
Executive Director of Aeromedical Operations Dr Sarah Coombes said NSW Ambulance was proud of what it had achieved together with RFDS. “For 19 years, the RFDS has been there working with NSW Ambulance to provide the best for the community of NSW. We thank them for their remarkable and ongoing contribution to health in this state,” Dr Coombes said.
The NSW Government has invested more than $9 billion in NSW Ambulance since 2011, including $1,4 billion in the 2021/22 budget.
The contract with Pel-Air ends Ambulance NSW’s 19-year partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
Sources: New South Wales Government, The Sydney Morning Herald