More Demand For Helicopter Transfers From Portland

Tuesday, 15 September 2015
Demand for emergency helicopter transfers out of Portland is hitting record levels.

A total of six Portland people were transferred to metropolitan hospitals for life-saving treatment during August, substantially above regular monthly figures.

The upswing in activity - including four transfers within a five-day period – is timely as the city's new helipad moves closer to reality.

The six transfers during August is the second highest monthly tally since records started in 2008.

December is usually the busiest month for helicopter transfers. The highest monthly number of transfers was seven in November 2011.

The increase comes as the new on-site helipad nears completion with an expected official opening later this year.

The successful tenderer of the traffic management system for the helipad will commence work shortly.

Director of Adult Retrieval Victoria, Associate Professor Marcus Kennedy, said retrievals were an important life-saving service for the Portland community.

Portland is quite isolated when it comes to access to critical care medicine and PDH uses the service regularly, he said.

Dr Kennedy said PDH had been proactive in ensuring patients are well prepared for transfer.

They have been keen to adopt some of the educational practices we promote and keep staff up-to-date by looking at ways to better prepare patients, contacting us early and utilising Telehealth, he said.

They are very proactive as a referral site.

Dr Kennedy said the new helipad would further assist the safe and timely transfer of patients.

Anything that streamlines the process is important from a patient perspective, he said. It will mean faster and more efficient transfers and less patient movements, all of which is associated with better patient outcomes.

Many cases are for cardiac conditions, however the service provides for all patient types including trauma.

Portland District Health Emergency Department Nurse Unit Manager Deb Tozer said that when critical patients present to PDH they are able to be expertly treated and stabilised in the emergency department prior to transferring to a more specialised area depending on their illness.

The helicopter has enabled us to know that once stable, these patients can be transferred swiftly and directly to their destination facility, Ms Tozer said. This saves on the logistics of road ambulance to the airport, meaning patients are reaching their destination in a more timely and efficient way.

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