Emergency doctors to step on board Rescue Missions

Published: Wed 7 Sep 2011 10:41 AM
September 7, 2011
Emergency doctors to step on board AucklandWestpac Rescue Helicopter Missions
In a New Zealand first, the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust and Auckland District Health Board have announced a pilot program which will see Emergency Department (ED) doctors on board on emergency flight missions.
The Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) program will run for two years and will see ED Doctors taken on all patient retrieval missions where possible.
The Clinical Director of Auckland City Hospital’s Adult Emergency Department, Dr Tim Parke, says earlier clinical intervention will lead to better health outcomes for patients.
“It is really about taking the hospital to the roadside. We will be able to administer anaesthetic to the patient at the scene and will be able to perform amputations and ultrasound if necessary.”
“Until now, this had to be done on arrival at the hospital. The trial allows a faster care pathway, resulting in improved health outcomes.”
“This trial will expand the services and adopt the recognised best practice model of a double medical crew, consisting of a doctor and a paramedic working closely together,” says Dr Parke.
The Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust will be providing all flight-related Personal Protective Equipment (overalls, helmets, life vests), to the doctors.
ARHT chief executive Bob Parkinson says having emergency doctors on board would be a valuable addition to the helicopter’s services.
“We operate more than 700 missions a year throughout the greater Auckland region and the Coromandel with this year looking to be our busiest ever.
We see this as an exciting development and a significant enhancement to the services that we provide.”
Dr Parke says eight ADHB doctors have volunteered to make themselves available for the trial free of charge at short notice when on administrative duties and during times of high demand, such as the Rugby World Cup 2011 and through the peak summer season.
The doctors have been undergoing training with ARHT crew over the last two months and stepped on board some of their first missions this week.
Although ARHT paramedics will still have “scene management responsibility” during the missions, the doctors will have overall medical control of the patient’s treatment.
Dr Parke says the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter is a well-established institution, saving lives across the region for decades.
“This is an exciting opportunity to expand that service to deliver better health outcomes for people in the Auckland region and we are thrilled to extend our successful partnership with the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust.”
For more information on the Westpac Rescue Helicopters or to donate to the service provided by the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, please visit

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