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Strong boost to emergency helicopter service

Two new helicopters will be added to South Australia’s police and ambulance services to boost response time and operational capacity, in a major Malinauskas Government investment.

A state government commitment of $150 million will see two new State Rescue Helicopter Service (SRHS) helicopters online before the end of 2024, four new dedicated pilots and an extra available line of flying for emergency response.

The SRHS is shared between SA Police (SAPOL) and SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) to provide critical emergency response across the state.

The SRHS operates 24/7 every day of the year and specialises in aeromedical retrievals from rural hospitals and accident scenes, search and rescue missions on-land and at sea and airborne law enforcement.

The Malinauskas Government has delivered a strong boost to the SRHS, extending its contract with current provider Babcock Australasia for a further four years, as well as investing in a brand-new SAPOL helicopter and an additional aircraft for SAAS.

The existing 30-year-old SAPOL helicopter will be replaced by a new twin-engine SAPOL Airbus H145 D3.The new helicopter is quieter, faster, and lighter. It will arrive by July 2024.

The new SAPOL H145 is the quietest helicopter in this class and offers substantial benefits including lower CO2 emissions and reduced noise pollution.

SAAS will welcome a Bell 412 EP to be configured for medical operations like the current aircraft. Due to its contract, it will arrive in December 2024, however other interim Bell 412 aircraft will be available for use.

The investment will also see four additional pilots hired to provide a third line of flying for 24/7 operations, meaning three helicopters can be airborne at once if required. This mitigates operational impacts associated with regulations relating to flying multiple aircraft types and provide more operational capability.

New engineering resources and the replacement of obsolescent equipment to support the new aircraft also forms part of the investment. Each year on average, the SRHS aircraft fly a combined 1300 missions and more than 2000 flying hours.

Quotes attributable to Joe Szakacs

Our government has delivered on a comprehensive extension to the State Rescue Helicopter Service that will both prevent crime and save lives.

Similarly for our hard-working specialist paramedics, and MedSTAR doctors and nurses, the additional helicopter delivered in this investment will allow for better resourcing during times of need and relieve demand on the service.

We are also proud to give the opportunity for four new pilot jobs through Babcock Australasia, and thank Babcock for their administration and delivery of this successful service.

Quotes attributable to Babcock Australasia CEO Andrew Cridland

Babcock is proud to work in partnership with the South Australian Government to provide critical rotary wing emergency air ambulance and search and rescue operations.

The life-saving work, which we have delivered for almost 20 years, is a testament to Babcock’s hardworking team who provide this service 24/7, 365 days a year.

Babcock’s new four-year contract and the addition of a fourth helicopter to our fleet means we will be able to provide even greater support to the South Australian community.

Quotes attributable to SAPOL Superintendent David Scutchings

The State Rescue Helicopter Service provides a high profile airborne police presence to prevent crime and rapidly respond to incidents to enhance community safety.

The police helicopter is deployed for a myriad of missions including search and rescue, emergency response, proactive patrolling and supporting road safety.

Quotes attributable to SAAS Operations Manager Metropolitan West / Special Operations Pat Stevenson

Our rescue and retrieval clinicians are responsible for providing care to the critically ill and injured, completing around 850 emergency retrievals in the helicopter each year.

The third Bell 412 helicopter will further enhance SAAS 24/7 capability to respond to medical retrievals and rescues, enabling us to continue to provide critical care to all our patients.

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