Since its inception in 1966, the AMS has expanded its fleet and services to provide a comprehensive emergency aero-medical and rescue service to the Western Cape, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal and health outreach programmes to the more remote communities of KwaZulu-Natal, who previously had little or no access to basic healthcare services.

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Provides specialised medical, mountain and surf rescue services, working closely with local Metro and affiliated rescue organisations.

Air Ambulance

Complements the local road ambulance services by providing rapid emergency aero-medical transportation of patients who are critically ill or injured.

Flying Doctor and Health Outreach

  • Provides delivery of appropriate and effective healthcare to rural communities, by flying specialists – many of whom are volunteers, as well as support personnel to outlying hospitals.

  • Provides specialist support to district and secondary hospitals.

  • Decreases elective referrals from district hospitals to the next level.

  • Addresses acute backlogs at district hospitals for patients in need of specialist care.

  • Addresses important community primary healthcare needs.Improves rural skills by training local and medical personnel.

  • The KZN service has been extended to include ground support units to access areas that has limited access by aircraft.

  • The ground support vehicles is also used to get to hospitals which are in close proximity to doctors supply.


    • Airway, breathing or circulation compromise.
    • Any patient who requires special resuscitation not available locally and which is available through our service.
    • An unconscious patient with a GCS of 11 or less.
    • Has a suspected spinal injury.
    • Amputation / threatened limb injuries.
    • Burns 2°/ 3° (25% – 80%), facial, chest, airway or circumferential.
    • MVA with red codes or multiple casualties, confirmed polytrauma, entrapments.
    • Cardiac and/or respiratory failure or arrest.
    • Severe convulsions.
    • Anaphylactic shock.
    • Near drowning / diving incident.
    • Advanced Life Support or medical rescue is required and ground response is > 20 minutes.
    • Multiple red codes: assaults, poisonings, industrial accidents, etc.
    • Confirmed obstetrical emergencies: prolapsed cord, obstructed labour, etc.
    • Search and rescue.
    • Long distance transfer of patients.
    • The duty doctor on call will be responsible for the final dispatch decision on medical grounds.
    • All of the above criteria are not considered in isolation, but the full clinical picture is assessed by the helicopter crew, and dispatch will occur at their discretion.
    • If you have any doubt regarding the interpretation of the above, please call us.


    • An early decision and request is ideal.
    • Quickly assess the condition of your patient.
    • Assess the time it would take to transport them by road.
    • If you feel that an aircraft is required or you are not sure then:
      Contact the SA Red Cross Air Mercy Service on 0861 267 267

    Please provide the following details to the dispatcher:

    • Your name and contact number.
    • Details of the patient’s condition, major injuries and vital signs.
    • Confirmation of patient’s medical cover, where applicable. Any medical cover found, even after your initial call should be phoned through as soon as possible.
    • Details of patient’s location, e.g. Ward, Hospital, GPS co-ordinates – if possible, landmarks, dangers around the helicopter loading zone when applicable, etc.
    • Our aim is to be airborne within 5 minutes of call-out.


    • A Airway: Patent; C-Spine immobilization; Intercostal Drain for suspected
    • Haemo-/ Pneumo-Thorax; Naso-gastric tube; C-Spine and Chest X-ray where possible.
    • B Oxygenation: 40% Oxygen Facemask / Ventilated – “Resusbag ” with reservoir.
    • C Circulation: Haemorrhage control; Urine catheter.
    • D Drips: At least one large bore and patent.
    • D Drugs: Have Special drugs been administered or are they Required.
    • D Dressings: All wounds to be dressed with clean dressings where possible.
    • E Evacuation: Call as early as possible; Furnish as much information regarding patient Diagnosis & Condition; Inter-Facility Transfer and Medical cover information where applicable; Passengers accompanying patients will only be accommodated with prior arrangement.
    • F Fractures: Splint all – ‘Backslab’ / Kramer Wire splint; Bi-valve POP casts.


    1. Park the police, fire or ambulance vehicle directly under any power lines or cables that may cross the roadway near the landing zone.
    2. Stand with your back to the wind 10 metres from where you want the helicopter to land.
    3. Secure the landing zone (approx. 30 m X 30 m) against all loose or light debris.
    4. Allow no persons but dedicated rescue personnel within 50 metres of the helicopter.
    5. Ensure the landing zone is as level as possible. If not, DO NOT approach the helicopter from the uphill side. Communicate with the helicopter via radio if possible. Do not approach the helicopter unless the flight crew requests you to do so.
    6. Do not activate smoke grenade in centre or upwind of loading zone.
    7. Control the crowd and bystanders.


    1. Always wait for the pilot’s signal before approaching the aircraft.
    2. Approach/depart the helicopter from the Green Area ONLY.
    3. Keep low and walk to and from the helicopter – NEVER RUN.
    4. At the helicopter, LISTEN for and obey the crewmembers’ instructions.
    5. All loose items on the stretcher must be SECURED. Carry all long items HORIZONTALLY only.
    6. NEVER approach / depart or step in the Red Area.
    7. HATS/CAPS and HELMETS should be strapped onto your head or not worn at all.
    8. Do not bring vehicles within 30 metres of the helicopter.
    9. DO NOT SMOKE around the helicopter.
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