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New Air Ambulance Service Launches Thursday


New Auckland-based, fixed-wing air ambulance service to be officially launched Thursday

Her Excellency the Governor-General of New Zealand, Dame Silvia Cartwright, PCNZM, DBE will officially launch Life Flight's new Auckland-based, fixed-wing air ambulance service, Life Flight NZ, during a ceremony at Auckland International Airport this Thursday.

The Auckland District Health Board (ADHB), on behalf of District Health Boards nationwide, selected The Life Flight Trust to operate the new air ambulance service late last year.

“Life Flight was the logical choice for us. It has a long-standing experience and reputation. Over the past few months we have developed a strong working relationship with them,” said ADHB Chief Planning and Funding Officer, Dr Denis Jury.

Life Flight has been providing a fixed-wing air ambulance service from Wellington since 1983. In 2001 it began operating a Metroliner aircraft. This is the same type of plane that has been chosen for the Auckland service.

As patron of Life Flight, the Governor-General will cut a ribbon to mark the official launch of the new air ambulance service. Other guests who will speak during the ceremony include ACC Minister Ruth Dyson, Maori Liaison Officer for the Manukau City Council Maurice Wilson, Life Flight Chairman Bill Day and ADHB’s Chief Planning and Funding Officer, Denis Jury.

Fixed-wing air ambulances are used to transport sick and injured adults, children and babies around New Zealand, primarily from their local hospital to a tertiary hospital where they are able to receive specialist care.

It is expected that about 30 per cent of the patients carried to or from Auckland will be babies or children under the age of 16. These patients, from around New Zealand, will be transported on the air ambulance from their local hospital to Starship Children’s Health or Auckland City Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit .

“With Life Flight, babies requiring specialist care will be able to access the country’s newest NICU facility at Auckland City Hospital,” said Dr Jury. “As a specialist child healthcare provider, we believe family support in an integral part of the ‘get-well’ process. Life Flight supports this by enabling up to four family members to travel with the child in the aircraft.”

During its first few weeks of service Life Flight NZ transported patients as far as Kaitaia and Invercargill.
“The new service is a real partnership between Life Flight and the Auckland DHB” says Life Flight General Manager Kevin Allan. “We have worked very closely with the Auckland DHB to ensure a patient-focused service which is affordable to the health system but sustainable over the long term. Over the last few months the two organisations have worked together to establish protocols, recruit specialist flight medical teams and crew, and commission the new fixed wing air ambulance service”.

The cost of the service will be met by DHBs and funding from the New Zealand Community Trust, a major community funder. Mitsubishi New Zealand, Team Talk, Mobil and Fuji Xerox, all long-term sponsors of Life Flight, are also providing their valuable support to the new Auckland service.

Life Flight's fixed-wing air ambulances are specially configured Metroliner aircraft. The Auckland and Wellington aircraft have been set up with the same types of stretchers and medical gear, allowing for seamless integration between them.

Both aircraft are able to carry two stretcher patients (or two incubators) plus four medical staff and four family members accompanying the sick or injured patients.

“Keeping families together whenever possible is a guiding principle of Life Flight,” explained Mr Allan.


Background information about the service is available from the Life Flight web page – http://www.lifeflight.org.nz/aklbackground.htm


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