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Northern NSW : Rescue Spring 2016
If a Service engineer mentions “zero lift” you would probably think they are talking about something to do with take-off. But zero lift ability is the significant feature of the medical fitout of the new AgustaWestland139 aircraft. One of the AW139s is currently in a hangar at Illawarra Airport, Albion Park where Total Aerospace Solutions (TAS) is carrying out the fitout to the specifications of NSW Ambulance. A crane or a lifting arm enables “zero lift”, which refers to the amount of effort required by the operator. I have watched demonstrations in which a 55kg nurse loaded a 180kg neonatal crib into the aircraft by herself. The neonatal crib was sitting on a frame and the nurse merely pulled out the lifting arm out, hooked it up, pushed the crib into the cabin and locked down the frame in the aircraft. There was no lift required from her body, just a slight push the equivalent of 5kg. At the moment when crew members are on the scene with a 130kg patient, there could be anything up to six people involved trying to help put the stretcher into the chopper when you take into account SES and police. The amount of “assistants” is reduced to two or three by the time you feed the patient into the cabin of the helicopter, and once the stretcher is in there it has to be manoeuvred and locked down to the floor. The new lifting device will allow one person to load up to 330kg. At the moment we have a mega-lift stretcher that can carry up to 220kg, but obviously loading that weight into a helicopter is difficult. It doesn’t get done very often. This arm will allow us to lift up to 330kg. The stretcher weighs about 50kg, so you can take a patient who weighs about 280kg. The first AW139 went in for its medical fitout on 10 August, the next one on 5 September and then 19 September and 1 November. We “go live” with the new aircraft on 1 March in Newcastle next year, 1 April in Lismore and 1 May in Tamworth. There is a lot of pilot training and medical crew training required and when each aircraft comes out of TAS after its four-month modification, we will move into that. The “new” medical fitout is very similar to what we have now. There are not too many more features and capabilities being added to what is currently achievable in the cabin of our 412s or BK117s. The winching will be the same as on the current aircraft. But the lifting arm enables us to move NETS cribs much more easily. Without a baby they weigh 160kg. It’s a difficult lift, and a delicate operation with a small baby in there. So “zero lift” is the jewel in the crown. The AW139’s new zero lift crane Everyone is getting a lift MATTHEW WALLACE, CHIEF ENGINEER 19 Rescue Magazine SPRING 2016
Rescue Winter 2016