Strengthening our emergency medical retrieval and rescue services

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SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) has completed a review of the state’s emergency medical retrieval and rescue services, after ten years of operation.

The independent review by ZED Consulting examined the operational effectiveness, financing, and governance of the multidisciplinary teams based at the Adelaide Airport facility, which includes SAAS MedSTAR. It confirms that the service is providing exceptional care to South Australians.

Dr Andrew Pearce, Director of Clinical Services, SAAS MedSTAR, said with emergency medical services constantly evolving due to technological advancements, regional changes, ageing populations, and changing disease and injury patterns, and after a decade of governance under SAAS, it was timely to look at opportunities for improvement.

“The review confirms that our highly skilled teams deliver outstanding results and excellence in patient care, and that South Australia is well positioned by having a single aeromedical and road retrieval capability that spans adult and paediatric services” Dr Pearce said.

The report specifically looked for areas of improvement and some of the wide-ranging actions that will strengthen SAAS’ MedSTAR include:

  • Restructuring the leadership team and appointing a single full-time leader accountable for MedSTAR, to oversee all aspects of the retrieval service.
  • Establishing clear protocols for rostering, and continuous improvement processes to embed outcomes from clinical audits.
  • Adopting a more contemporary learning approach to the clinical case review process.

“Our rescue and retrieval teams work in some of the most challenging and complex environments, and they do an outstanding job – these changes will only further bolster support for their operations and resilience” said Dr Pearce.

SAAS will commence working on all 40 recommendations immediately.

SA Ambulance Service, Chief Executive Officer, Rob Elliott said this is an opportunity to make improvements to the leadership structure, operations and rostering arrangements, training, and culture for clinicians who work within SAAS MedSTAR.

“SAAS is committed to ensuring that all staff receive the support they need to consistently deliver the very highest standards of patient care and maintaining an outstanding service,” said Mr Elliott.

“I am very proud of the work that our aeromedical teams do but we’re always keen to develop and improve By addressing these recommendations, we will be able to ensure that our clinical excellence continues as we ensure the workplace is safe and healthy, and ultimately provide better service to our patients”.

“Our staff have been a valuable part of the review process, and I’m very grateful for their involvement” he said.

Keith Driscoll, SAAS Executive Director of Clinical Performance and Patient Safety has already been appointed to manage the implementation of the review. Mr. Driscoll has significant experience in ambulance operations, clinical development, education, industrial relations and developing comprehensive patient safety improvement initiatives.

ZED Consulting finalised the report in August 2021.