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New helipad data shows emergency transfer increase

Friday, 13 October 2017

Barwon Health’s $11.5 million helipad is helping save lives across Victoria, averaging almost three air ambulance transfers a week.

Since opening in June last year, the helipad at University Hospital Geelong has been used for 196 flights – including 143 in its first 12 months.

On average, there have been 2.9 flights each week, with about 59 per cent of transfers coming from the HEMS4 air ambulance based in Warrnambool.

Barwon Health Emergency Department Director Dr Michael Sheridan estimated the average was an increase of about 50 per cent compared to the previous helipad, which has been turned into a staff parking area.

“The helipad has improved the ability for inbound patients to arrive at Barwon Health consistently,” he said.

“Access to the previous helipad was sometimes limited by the buildings around it, particularly weather patterns that made it difficult to land.

“Now as one of the highest points in Geelong, it’s always uninterrupted access to the hospital.”

Dr Sheridan said the helipad provided numerous clinical benefits to patients treated in the emergency department.

“There’s been significant growth in treating people who are critically unwell in the region, particularly in the cath lab (catheterisation laboratory), where we perform procedures on people who have had heart attacks or myocardial infarctions.

“The new helipad and lift system can make a 15 minute difference in getting someone to treatment in a cath lab because of the seamless transition between Ambulance Victoria, the helipad and the receiving units.

“The reception is smoother, safer and quicker. Time is very important to those cardiac cases because it affects their outcomes, which have improved during that period of time.

“We can provide a life-saving procedure earlier because we have direct access with a seamless transition to different areas, and a pre-hospital notification system that has a team waiting to assess patients on arrival.

“Over time we definitely seem to have saved lives and improved the care of critically unwell patients, who transfer from a regional or rural hospital, as well as those complex trauma patients who can be sent to major trauma centres using the helipad for a quick and seamless transition.”