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New ambulances part of push to close health gap in remote Central Australian communities

Giovanni Torre -

Two new high-tech ambulances geared to help save lives and increase emergency response capacity will soon arrive in two remote Central Australia communities.

The four-wheel drive Toyota HiAce ambulances, fitted with powered stretchers, will operate at health centres in Ntaria (Hermannsburg) and Anmatjere (Ti Tree), and replace the Troop Carrier ambulances in those remote communities.

The new ambulances, provided by the NT government, will be used for emergency road evacuations to transfer patients from Ntaria/Hermannsburg and Anmatjere/Ti Tree to Mparntwe/Alice Springs, working in partnership with the NT Health Medical Retrieval and Consultation Centre (MRaCC) and St John Ambulance NT.

The ambulances have features that will benefit patient care, including high-tech powered stretchers, two rear seats, rear air-conditioning and more space. In comparison to the troopy ambulances, the rear features mean that there is an extra seat for either guardians, staff or retrieval teams, more space for acute care procedures and cooler temperatures as Anmatjere and Ntaria summers can exceed 40 degrees C.

The high-tech powered stretchers mean bariatric patients can be manoeuvred more safely into an ambulance as it has a battery-powered hydraulic system that will enable NT Health staff to load patients into the ambulance with the touch of a button.

The previous non-powered stretchers saw staff manually transfer patients into troopy ambulances. NT Health staff will receive competency training in how to use the powered stretchers, with instruction provided by Northern Territory-based assistive technology company, Keep Moving, which supplied and installed the stretchers.

The Territory government said on Friday that it has invested $410,000 for the two ambulances for Territorians in Ntaria and Anmatjere to improve emergency response capacity, with the troopy ambulances remaining in each of these communities. This comes after a $2.2 billion 2024 Health Budget in the Territory.

NT Minister for Health Selena Uibo said "every Territorian deserves high quality health care, especially in times of emergency".

"Supporting emergency response in Central Australian remote communities means better patient care closer to home for Territorians – this is why we are investing over $400,000 in emergency response for Ntaria and Anmatjere," she said.

"Our Territory Labor Government is improving health care capacity that support remote communities with high-tech features that to support the work of our emergency response workers in the bush."

Gwoja MP, and Territory Attorney General, Chansey Paech said the government is "making sure Territorians, no matter where they live, have access to modern emergency services".

"These ambulance upgrades means Territorians in Ntaria and Anmatjere will better emergency response capacity with modern features for better health care outcomes," he said.

"We are providing emergency services to all Territorians in remote communities and ensuring people can access high quality care closer to home."

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