New Zealand has made an attempt to centralize the dispatch and co-ordination of air ambulance helicopters. The centralized medical flight dispatch began on 20 February and the trial will last for two years. Depending on the success of this trial, the centralization will continue to be implemented. The announcement of the trial was made by St. John, an emergency responder charity.
Government Funds Trial
The trial of a centralized air ambulance dispatch has been made possible through funds from the nation’s Ministry of Health along with the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC). The project will cost an estimated NZ $591,000. It is a joint operation between St. John and other medical flight providers such as Air Rescue Group and Wellington Free Ambulance.
Well-Trained Staff to Oversee Centralized Medical Flight Dispatch
The dispatch and co-ordination will take place at an Air Desk, where a pair of clinical support officers will oversee the operations. The CSOs are all well-trained paramedics at an intensive care level. Six staff members have been appointed for the role and each of them have an experience in the air sector. St. John has made sure to appoint CSOs with air sector experience because their goal is to dispatch the most ideal aircrafts for certain incidents.
For example, the nearest available air ambulance helicopter may not be the right helicopter for transporting a patient. So the Air Desk staff will closely evaluate each incident to determine the right aircraft for the job. The Air Desk will be available 15 hours a day throughout the week. Its base will be located in Auckland Clinical Control Centre. From this base, the staff will assess calls and ensure that the appropriate aircraft and crew will reach the scene of an accident or medical emergency.