The Royal Flying Doctor Service Initiation of Helicopter Video Simulation Orientation Training for Air Medical Crews in Western Australia: A Pilot Study

John Iliff, Breeanna Spring, Glenn Powell, Miranda Hendry, Alice Richardson, Fergus W. Gardiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: In May 2022, the Royal Flying Doctor Service Western Operations in Western Australia pioneered the introduction of the first organizational helicopter emergency service with 2 Eurocopter EC145 helicopters. This article describes the pilot study undertaken, assessing the implementation and flight crew confidence outcomes of the supplementation of video simulation training to standard clinical training for helicopter air medical retrieval. Methods: Survey assessments using a 5-point Likert scale provided anonymous demographic data with summarized results of the means and standard deviations. Nonparametric tests were used to compare responses between the control and experimental groups from pretraining to postintervention to postpractical. Results: The findings showed an increase in confidence rates after a classroom session and further increases after a practical session in the control group. The intervention group showed a small rise in overall confidence levels after being shown video simulations following the completion of their classroom session before commencing their practical session. This study established that regardless of the airframe, clinical staff, often with significant experience in air medical retrieval and critical care medicine, do not automatically have confidence in performing critical care procedures in a new aircraft type to which they have not previously been oriented. The results display a statistically significant increase in confidence levels in procedural performance after the classroom session compared with the pretraining questionnaire, with a subtle further rise when video simulations are included in the classroom session. When a classroom session is subsequently supplemented with a practical simulation session, confidence levels continue to rise. Conclusion: Implementing a comprehensive educational strategy including classroom and practical elements for clinical staff in their orientation to new aircraft improves their confidence in performing critical care procedures if required in flight. The addition of in-flight prerecorded videos demonstrating these critical care procedures is a useful adjunct to simulation training for flight crew in air medical retrieval, and further analytical studies may indeed show a statistically significant improvement in staff confidence.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-168
Number of pages6
JournalAir Medical Journal
Issue number3
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


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