On 3 July the Toll Ambulance Rescue Helicopter Service fleet of eight AW139 reached a major aviation milestone. In the four and a half years since the service's launch, the fleet has flown 20,000 hours and completed more than 10,000 critical care missions at multiple sites in Australia's New South Wales region, including canyons, crevasses, roadways, rivers, oceans, frozen lakes, cliffs and cruise ships.
The service is operated by Toll Helicopters in partnership with NSW Ambulance, ACT Ambulance and the Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport service (NETS).
“More than 96 per cent of the state's population are within one hour of a NSW Ambulance rescue helicopter and its critical care paramedic and doctor medical team, even in remote areas,” says Cameron Edgar, director helicopter operations, aeromedical operations, NSW Ambulance.
The Toll Ambulance Rescue Helicopter Service operates 24/7 365 days a year with response times averaging less than 10 minutes in daylight and less than 20 minutes at night.
In 2020 alone, Toll Ambulance Rescue Helicopter Service was tasked to over 3,000 missions. The environment in which the NSW and ACT aeromedical operations work is both challenging and diverse. It involved everything from over the horizon search and rescue operations off the NSW coast to 250 winch operations in the mountainous regions, with no two rescues looking the same.
One patient recently reached out to the service: “I would like to contact the air and medical team for their incredible skill and bravery rescuing me last week. How the pilot managed to hover over the trees and the team winch me out was incredible. I cannot express my gratitude enough. Thank you so much for your help,” he says.
Toll GM Colin Gunn states: “We are incredibly proud to operate this service with NSW Ambulance, ACT Ambulance and Newborn and Paediatric Emergency Transport service (NETS). With 120 Toll staff dedicated to the operation, it allows the service to provide exceptional medical care for the communities of NSW and ACT for the past four and a half years. The AW139 is able to balance the combination of speed, performance and payload to provide the most exceptional aeromedical platform available today.
“With Australia's largest aeromedical fleet of eight AW139 aircraft and six online 24/7, maintenance is a fine art and a balancing act. A team of 24 engineers and dedicated planners coordinate this mastery. This maintenance system is defined by Toll and the manufacturer; it encompasses the limits, the timeframes and tolerances depending on the inspection. The fleet is rotated through our heavy maintenance facility in Bankstown.”
Chief engineer Jeff Bahls concludes: “This is a great milestone. The team and I are proud to be able to provide an exceptional level of safe aircraft availability, every day of the year, for our crews and our client.”