The air ambulance service is part of wider ambulance service, which supports the initial treatment and retrieval of patients from medical or injury events in the pre-hospital setting through:
- communications centres for triaging ‘111’ calls, providing clinical coordination and tasking, and dispatch of road and/or air ambulance services
- the emergency road ambulance service
- the air ambulance service.
The national air ambulance service uses helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft for pre-hospital (emergency) and inter-hospital transfers.
- The pre-hospital (emergency) service brings clinical care to the scene of an accident or medical event and transports seriously ill and injured patients to a hospital or place of definitive care.
- Inter-hospital transfers use helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft to transport patients from a lower level hospital to a place of definitive care.
The national air ambulance service is a high cost, low frequency service that can often make a clinically significant difference to patient outcomes, especially in rural areas.
The Air Ambulance Service operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are three regions for Air Ambulance Services:
- Northern: Northland, Waitemata, Auckland, Counties Manukau DHBs
- Central: Waikato, Taranaki, Tarawhiti, Lakes, Bay of Plenty, Hawkes Bay, Mid Central, Whanganui, Wairarapa, Hutt, Capital and Coast DHBs
- Southern: Nelson Marlborough, West Coast, Canterbury, South Canterbury, Southern DHBs.
Emergency Road Ambulance Service (ERAS) providers (St John and WFA) provide aeromedically trained paramedic staff for emergency air ambulance missions and DHBs provide medical staff (medical practitioners and nurses trained in aeromedicine) for inter-hospital transfers. Individual air ambulance providers have arrangements in place with an ERAS provider and DHB(s) for the provision of paramedic and medical staff .
For a copy of the service specifications see the Emergency Ambulance Service - Generic service agreements page.