Home base for Airborne Heroes

24/7

Emergency services always ready to respond

1 in 3

Airport flight movements are emergency services

13,000

Emergency service flights per year

Essendon Fields Airport is the proud home of the State’s emergency services air wings. From daily surveillance flights to emergency response and seasonal fire protection, the activities of these organisations account for nearly a third of all aircraft movement at our airport.

We’re honoured to be the home base for these airborne heroes, and to help share their stories.

READY TO RESPOND 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK

24-hr access for emergency movements and our proximity to major hospitals plays a major part in making Essendon Fields the vital emergency services hub that it is today.

Over 8,000 annual incidents are attended by Air Ambulance Victoria and the Victoria Police Air Wing alone. Thousands of other emergency flights pass through our airport each year, ranging from medical evacuations, to search and rescue missions and urgent organ transport.

MEET THE TEAMS

Helping police patrol further

Officially formed in 1975, the Victorian Police Air Wing is the aviation unit of the Victoria Police. Operating a fleet of aircraft, the Police Air Wing provides State-wide services including crime prevention and detection, search and rescue and operation activities.

In 2020 the Air Wing replaced its fleet of Dauphin helicopters with 3 new Leonardo AW139 helicopters, outfitted with advanced mission consoles, cameras and rescue hoists.  The force is also introducing a  Beechcraft Super King Air aeroplane to the fleet for the first time, to assist with long range surveillance activity.

Helping Medicine Reach New Heights

Synonymous with the remote Aussie outback, The Royal Flying Doctor Service actually started in Victoria, and has been based at Essendon Fields for more than 20 years. Today, EF Airport is the central hub for the Flying Doctor’s aeromedical service, and connects its road patient transport to 22 bases located throughout Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania.

Each year RFDS Victoria provides over 90,000 patients with primary health care services and transports by air or road. In 2020 the RFDS moved into a newly refurbished WWII hangar at EF Airport, where they continue to partner with organisations across the State to improve the health and well-being of our regional communities.

The Best Care in the Air

Air Ambulance paramedics are specially trained to perform advanced treatments in challenging environments. Two Leonardo HEMS (Helicopter Emergency Medical Service) and four custom-designed Beechcraft King Air B-200C planes operate from Essendon Fields, and the base is an important link for three other regional HEMS aircraft based in the Latrobe Valley, Bendigo and Warrnambool.

Most helicopter callouts are for life-threatening emergencies, which are mainly trauma and paediatric cases, while the fixed wing aircraft are used in emergencies and for the routine transport of non-emergency patients, requiring important treatments such as chemo and radiotherapy.

From their EF Airport home base, Air Ambulance services extend over 700,000 square kms, and nationally the airport provides a central point for patient transfer and refuelling services.

Helping Fire Trucks to Fly

Kestrel Aviation provides emergency response and firefighting support with its fleet of fixed and rotary wing aircraft, and contract the versatile, heavy-lift Erickson S-64 Air Crane® helicopters within Australia. Operated by highly experienced pilots, their fleet of water-bombing aircraft are redeployed from EF Airport at the start of each fire season to wherever help is needed most.

Reaching those that may be stranded

Aeromedical evacuations and Medevac operations, which include the emergency and non-emergency transport of patients by fixed wing aircraft, are undertaken by private operators at our airport. JetCity, Platinum Aviation and ExecuJet are three providers of these unique services and work in conjunction with specialised medical rescue staff. Past rescues have seen patients transported to Melbourne from catastrophic disasters such as the New Zealand White Island eruption in 2019 and assistance with the transportation arrangements for victims of the recent bush fires in NSW.

Where Search and Rescue Takes Flight

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) operates Bombardier Challenger 604 jet aircraft which are specifically modified and operated under contract by Cobham. AMSA also operates aircraft from Cairns and Perth and is responsible for national maritime and aviation search and rescue across a region covering approximately one-tenth of the Earth’s surface.

These aircraft are available for search and rescue tasking at short notice, 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Help When it's Needed Most

During the summer months of December through to March, Victorian Emergency Services are a common site amongst the EF hangars. Utilising Essendon Fields Airport as an operating base for firefighting and information gathering aircraft, three core aircraft are stationed here.

Firstly, EF airport welcomes a Type 1 firefighting aircrane helicopter (HT341) to Australia from the northern hemisphere to water bomb fires.  A Type 3 Firebird helicopter (FB306) also utilises the base, working alongside as an air attack platform. This machine carries an Air Attack Supervisor who directs the aircrane when performing water bombing missions. A specialist Beechcraft King Air 200 (FS125) also works from EF, flying over fire areas and mapping active fire using infra-red mapping technology.

Thank Our Airborne Heroes

The next time you are passing by our airport take note of the extraordinary work that is happening on and above the ground. And, remember when you see an emergency aircraft overhead chances are it has come from or is heading to Essendon Fields to undertake a special mission.

Help us celebrate this magnificent collection of Airborne Heroes by posting a thank you comment on our Facebook or Instagram pages and tagging #homebaseforheroes