Australia Dept of Health, November 20, 2012 - Air Ambulance Victoria has marked its 50th year of flying patients in critical life-threatening emergencies with a special celebration at Essendon Airport.
Over 100 people attended, including Minister for Health David Davis, Ambulance Victoria CEO Greg Sassella, past patients and their families, past and current staff including flight paramedics, pilots, navigators and members from emergency services and Pel Air.
Air Ambulance Victoria is the oldest aero medical helicopter service in Australia and one of the oldest in the world.
Commencing operations in May 1962 with only one rotary wing aircraft and one fixed wing, in its first year 12 patients were transported via air, the majority being medical and trauma patients from the Snowy Mountain Hydro Scheme.
Fifty years on and Air Ambulance Victoria has five rotary wing aircrafts, four fixed wing aircrafts, 69 operational staff consisting of MICA flight paramedics, flight paramedics, flight coordinators, and a strong team of pilots, crewman, engineers, trade assistants, doctors, and administrators.
Last year alone Air Ambulance Victoria transported more than 1,800 patients by helicopter and nearly 5,000 patients by plane.
Among the patients recognised at the celebration was the very first patient of Air Ambulance Victoria, Mr Peter Connell.
Peter was returning home from work on the Snowy Mountain Hydroelectric Scheme 50 years ago when he lost control of his car near Corryong and was transported in Air Ambulance Victoria’s first plane to the Austin Hospital.
Also recognised at the anniversary were Ms Jennifer Condon, the first patient to receive an in-flight blood transfusion in 2011, and Mike Marshman and Hayden Jones who were rescued during the Sydney to Hobart race maritime disaster in 1998.