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SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) MedSTAR is South Australia’s single emergency medical retrieval service. 

Launched in March 2009, SAAS MedSTAR has been built on the foundation of over 30 years of critical care neonatal, paediatric and adult medical retrieval operations in South Australia.

Responsible for providing care to the critically ill and injured throughout the SA Health care region and beyond, MedSTAR is committed to providing a world leading emergency medical retrieval service. With the launch of a 24/7 dedicated paediatric and neonatal service component (SAAS MedSTAR Kids) in February 2010, full single service implementation was achieved.

In the past 12 months SAAS MedSTAR performed 2243 retrievals, of which nearly 1500 were for critically ill or injured adults. Since the launch of SAAS MedSTAR Kids in February 34% of SAAS MedSTAR patients were under the age of 18. In addition to critical care retrieval, SAAS MedSTAR also provides 24/7 clinical support and advice to country and metropolitan health services and SAAS clinicians.

Utilising road, rotary wing and fixed wing transport platforms, approximately 40% of all tasks have been performed by helicopter, 30% by fixed wing turbo-prop or jet aircraft and the remaining 30% by road ambulance. SAAS MedSTAR also performs back transfers of patients to rural and interstate facilities for paediatric and neonatal patients on a regular basis.

The service includes:

  • Distinctive identity, branding, red uniform and logo for SAAS MedSTAR Emergency Medical Retrieval.
  • A single central retrieval clinical coordination, clinical advice and tasking centre co-located with the SAAS Emergency Operations Centre in Eastwood.
  • An interim operational base located at Adelaide Airport (co-located with SAAS Special Operations Team) in close proximity to Royal Flying Doctor Service and the helicopter provider.
  • A minimum of three dedicated adult retrieval teams available 24/7.
  • A dedicated SAAS MedSTAR Kids service component for the inter-hospital stabilisation and transfer of critically ill and injured neonates and children.
  • Dedicated SAAS retrieval rapid response vehicles for quick deployment of SAAS MedSTAR teams to metropolitan emergencies – both pre and inter-hospital.
  • Standardisation of equipment, training, pre-employment fitness assessments and operating procedures.
  • The ongoing development and implementation of a robust system of Clinical Governance, risk management and Quality Assurance processes.

The governance of SAAS MedSTAR moved to SAAS on 1 July 2010, improving SAAS MedSTAR’s alignment with emergency service delivery. 


Special Operations Team

SA Ambulance Service has a Special Operations Team comprised of highly-trained rescue paramedics. Rescue paramedics are trained in high-risk and rescue operations including water rescues, cliff rescues and confined space extracations.

They work closely with other emergency services including SA Police, Metropolitan Fire Service, Country Fire Service and the State Emergency Service.

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The content on this page is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence, unless indicated otherwise.
To attribute this material, cite SA Ambulance Service, 2020.