Ambulance Victoria’s fleet of five helicopters and four aeroplanes provide a vital link between rural communities and metropolitan health services.
The main users are patients outside the metropolitan area, which ensures rural communities have rapid access to our highest level of care and transport to specialist care in the Melbourne metropolitan region, particularly for severe trauma patients as part of the state trauma system.
Ambulance Victoria operates five emergency response helicopters based at Essendon, the Latrobe Valley, Bendigo and Warrnambool. Most helicopter callouts are for life-threatening emergencies, which are mainly trauma and paediatric cases, with the balance mainly inter-hospital transfers/critical retrievals (with a small amount of search and rescue, and transporting remote patients).
All five helicopters carry blood products, which can be administered to patients by a MICA flight paramedic with medical approval, along with a range of other emergency medical capabilities.
In 2016 our new Augusta Westland AW-139 twin engine helicopters came into service as part of a 10-year contract with the company Australian Helicopters. The new helicopters, which have the latest in avionic technology, are faster, bigger and can travel longer distances without refuelling than the existing fleet.
We also operate four King Air B-200 fixed-wing aircraft, which are used in emergencies and for the routine transport of non-emergency patients. This service includes transporting people from regional and rural regions for regular and important treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy for cancer patients, and transporting patients from metropolitan hospitals to regional hospitals. We also fly patients with acute medical conditions requiring surgery, transfer injured patients from regional hospitals and retrieve critically ill patients from regional hospitals to specialist care, such as cardiac care and intensive care.
The air ambulances are pressurised and regularly transport multiple patients to maximise efficiency. The service reaches across Victoria and into parts of southern New South Wales, northern Tasmania and parts of South Australia.