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Helicopter Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) began operating in
Victoria from 1970 with the establishment of Peninsula's
 Ambulance Service's 'Angel  Of Mercy' operating
out of Tyabb Airfield, being manned
by local Paramedics.
 

With the introduction of Air 495 in 1986,  the 'Angel Of Mercy was
disbanded  for the more efficient Dauphin 2 Helicopter
with 24 hr MICA-Paramedic coverage.

 

 
 

In the late 1960's, Dr Tom Ready, a Vice President of the Committee of the Peninsula Ambulance Service, realised that the isolation of the Peninsula from Melbourne's major Hospitals required a more rapid form of transportation of critically injured patients than that being provided by road Ambulance.  The concept was taken to Mr Bill Vowell, the then owner of the Helicopter Service at Tyabb Airfield - Vowell Air Services Pty Ltd, located just south of the Peninsula Ambulance Service's Headquarters.  Mr Vowell conducted a number of successful trials using a Hiller 1100 helicopter and in 1970, Mr Vowell travelled to the United States to gain information on how to establish a Helicopter Retreival Service.  On his return to Australia, Mr Vowell purchased a single engined Bell 206A JetRanger for $155,000 out of his own pocket.  An additional $15,000 for fitting out the aircraft for it's Ambulance role was paid for by the Peninsula Ambulance Service.  At the time the Angel began service, there was no other rescue helicopter in Australia operating primarily in an Ambulance capacity.

For the following 14 months, Mr Vowell operated the helicopter privately, providing the helicopter to the Peninsula Ambulance Service at no cost.  In March of 1972 following it's success, the Peninsula Ambulance Service entered into a sole lease contract with Vowell's Air Services Pty Ltd at a standby cost of $61,000 per year.  Ambulance crews were provided on an as need basis from the local Ambulance Station or from Paramedics at the accident scene.  To assist with funding of the new Service, fundraising programs were developed on the Peninsula to help cover the Services costs.  In 1985, the Service replaced the aging Bell JetRanger with a new Bell LongRanger aircraft providing greater internal space.

However in late 1985, a review of Ambulance services was established which included Ambulance, Health Department and Police representatives.  This Committee found that by combining the Police and Ambulance needs into one helicopter service, utilising the current SA.365C1 Dauphin 2 (registration VH-PVF) that had been in Police Service since 1979,  a helicopter emergency medical service using a twin engined IFR helicopter operating 24 hrs per day could be operated more effectively than the 'Angel of Mercy'. The Committee recommended the establishment of a Melbourne based helicopter medical service at Essendon Airport (HEMS 1), continuing of the Latrobe Valley helicopter service (HEMS 2), but the disbandment of the 'Angel Of Mercy'. 

In March 1986, with the beginning of Melbourne's Helicopter Retrieval Service, the Angel of Mercy ceased service.

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 

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