Ambulance Helicopters have commenced aeromedical operations to provide rescue and retrieval services in partnership with New South Wales (NSW) Ambulance

The first fleet of eight new ambulance helicopters have begun service for NSW Ambulance, hitting the NSW skies, bringing round-the-clock care to patients in regional parts of the state.

The NSW Ambulance fleet is part of the NSW Government’s $151.2 million state-wide Helicopter Retrieval Network.

NSW Ambulance aeromedical services, operated by Toll Group, was launched by NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner on Friday to improve coverage for rural, regional and remote NSW.

“The new Helicopter Retrieval Network will improve coverage for rural, regional and remote NSW and deliver a world-class modern helicopter fleet for NSW patients, no matter where they live,” Mrs Skinner said.

The eight choppers, each carrying a doctor and paramedic on every flight, will be based around the southern half of NSW, Wollongong, Orange, Canberra and the Sydney-Bankstown region.

Under the new contract, a doctor and paramedic will be on every flight. Some bases – such as Wollongong and Orange – will operate 24/7 to deliver faster emergency care to the regions.

The Southern Zone is one of two aeromedical retrieval zones in NSW, covering Sydney-Bankstown, Wollongong and Orange.

The Northern Zone, which includes Newcastle, Tamworth and Lismore bases, will be operated by Northern NSW Helicopter Rescue Service Pty Ltd and is due to begin later in the year.

The Toll & NSW Ambulance Rescue Helicopter fleet is made up of eight Agusta Westland 139 (AW139) helicopters. The new, larger fleet is white, with the NSW Ambulance roundel and Toll logo, not red and white as NSW Ambulance helicopters had been previously.

NSW Ambulance Commissioner Dominic Morgan welcomed the new partnership with Toll: “Our aeromedical doctors and paramedics provide an exemplary service to patients in all corners of the state, completing around 3000 patient missions each year. I am confident that this partnership will enable our highly-qualified NSW Ambulance helicopter doctors and paramedics to continue to deliver exceptional out-of-hospital critical care to patients across the state.”

Toll Helicopters General Manager Mark Delany said it marks the start of a long-term partnership to deliver world-class aeromedical and rescue services to NSW.

“Our pilots and aircrew are some of the most highly experienced and trained aviation professionals in the country. They are highly skilled in working collaboratively with aeromedical crews in the delivery of aeromedical and rescue services,” he said.

Operational changes for NSW Ambulance aeromedical crew are minimal.