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Whilst Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) began operating in Victoria from 1970 with the Peninsula's Ambulance Service's 'Angel Of Mercy', and later with the introduction of Helimed 1 in the Latrobe Valley Ambulance Service in 1981, the introduction of an official statewide emergency helicopter program came out of the 1983 Minister of Health's "Committee Of Enquiry Into The Use Of Helicopters In Ambulance Service".  Five major recommendations were made by the Committee which included:

1.  Expansion of the 'Angel Of Mercy' coverage to 150 km from Melbourne;

2.  The aircraft to be centralised to Moorabbin Airport;

3.  Introduction of a larger twin engined IFR helicopter;

4. That the helicopter transport only time critical patients;    and

5.  That the Latrobe Valley helicopter service be maintained.

Victoria's Ambulance Service soon after the release of these recommendations underwent  a major review by a Parliamentary Committee known as the "Public Bodies Review Committee (PBRC)" and after considering the above recommendations, downgraded these modifications to:

1.  Maintaining the Latrobe Valley Ambulance helicopter service;

2.  Introduce a Bell Long Ranger operating out of Moorabbin Airport during daylight hours only and without IFR ability.

A further Committee was established which included Ambulance, Health Department and Police representatives.  This Committee found that by combining the Police and Ambulance needs into one helicopter service, utilising the current SA.365C1 Dauphin 2 (registration VH-PVF) that had been in Police Service since 1979,  a helicopter emergency medical service using a twin engined IFR helicopter operating 24 hrs per day could be operated at a cost for little more than the proposed Bell Long Ranger at Moorabbin Airport operating in daylight hours only.  The Committee's final recommendation was for 3 aircraft were to be utilised and based at the Police Airwing facilities at Essendon Airport.  The first aircraft using the original 1979 SA.365C1 Dauphin 2  aircraft was to be fitted out for Police use only.  Two further SA.365C1 Dauphin 2 aircraft were to be purchase secondhand from the Romanian Air Force. The first of these aircraft (registration VH-PVA) combined Police and Ambulance usage (Ambulance work always taking priority) and the second aircraft (VH-PVK) acted as a spare for the other 2 aircraft due to the significant maintenance downtimes of the Dauphin helicopter. The fitting out of the two later aircraft (VH-PVA & VH-PVK) also included the addition of a weather radar system which gave both aircraft the distinct pointy nose compared to the original Police helicopter (VH-PVF).  The Committee also recommended the continuing of the Latrobe Valley helicopter service but the disbandment of the 'Angel Of Mercy'.

Initial fitting out costs of the Dauphin aircraft  for Ambulance usage (VH-PVA & VH-PVK) was provided by Victoria's state body the 'Motor Accident Board', and crewing was to consist of a Police pilot, Police observer and a MICA Paramedic (with a minimum of 3 years MICA experience).    On the 1st July 1986, Melbourne's HEMS operations began under the call sign Air 495. The SA.365C1 Dauphin 2 (VH-PVA) was fitted with the following equipment:

  • Twin Meca Arrical 1A1 665 hp turbine engines

  • 120 knot cruising speed

  • Flying radius of 200 km or 160 mins flying time

  • 640 Litre fuel capacity

  • Full IFR all weather capability

  • TV/FLIR imaging

  • Monochrome weather radar display

  • 30 million candlepower Nitesun SX116 searchlight

  • 76 m rescue winch with 272 kg capacity (fitted only when required)

Standard Ambulance equipment included:

  • Single Ambulance Stretcher (with a Paraguard stretcher available as a second stretcher).

  • Oxygen & resuscitation equipment

  • Oxygen Ventilator

  • Propac Obs Monitor

  • Defibrillator

  • Standard IV and drug issue

  • Syringe pumps

In early 2001, two brand new AS.365N3 Dauphin 2 helicopters were purchased.  In late 2001, the first of these (VH-PVG) came on line as the frontline replacement Air Ambulance for the aging SA.365C1 Dauphin 2 (VH-PVA), with VH-PVA know becoming the backup aircraft.  The aircraft emergency codename changed from Air 495 to HEMS 1.  The new aircraft is now fitted with the following equipment:

  • Twin Arriel 2C 779hpturbomeca turbine engines

  • 150 knot cruising speed

  • Flying radius of 430 km or 200 mins flying time

  • 1135 Litre fuel capacity using 392 litres per hour

  • Retractable undercarriage

  • Full IFR all weather capability

  • TV/FLIR imaging

  • Color weather radar display

  • 30 million candlepower Nitesun searchlight

  • 76 m rescue winch with 272 kg capacity

  • Ambulance equipment same as above

 

 
 
 

On the 1st July 1986, Melbourne's helicopter medical services (HEMS) operations began under
 the call sign Air 495 with the SA.365C1 Dauphin 2 (VH-PVA) helicopter. Pictured
 below is the aircraft in it's original color scheme

 

 
 
 
Melbourne's helicopter medical services (HEMS) SA.365C1 Dauphin 2 (VH-PVA)
helicopter in it's later color schemes.
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
 
Melbourne's helicopter medical service's  latest helicopter AS.365N3 Dauphin 2  (VH-PVG) now
 known as HEMS 1 was introduced into service late 2001. This aircraft provides improved
 range, speed, space and lifting capabilities compared to the previous aircraft.
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
 
 
Melbourne's helicopter medical services (HEMS) SA.365C1 Dauphin 2 (VH-PVA)
helicopter in it's new December 2007 red Ambulance colour scheme
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 

 
 
Special Thanks For Photos
From
Edward Chisholm
 
 
 

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