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  • Writer's pictureAna Nikolic

Remote Area Medivac Training Gets Serious on the Larapinta Trail

Larapinta Trail Search and Rescue

Larapinta Trail Trek Support recently conducted a specialised field training course for the newly formed Remote Area Access Team at St Johns Ambulance in Alice Springs. The course is the first of three phases of advanced field skills training for the paramedic team.


The new Remote Area Access Team was established after a substantial increase and demand for specialised remote area medivacs from the Larapinta Trail in 2022, with over 90 medivacs carried out during the season, ​ 57 of those carried out by LTTS alone. It is expected demand for medical and evacuation services on the Larapinta Trail and along the MTB trails of Alice Springs, will increase in 2023.

Larapinta Trail Trek Support was engaged by St Johns Ambulance Service in Alice Springs to plan and conduct the training for the newly formed paramedic team. Prior to the course, a selection process was carried out by St Johns to select the most suitable paramedics for the specialised team.


Larapinta Trail Rescue flare and signalling training

The first phase of the training was conducted over five days in Alice Springs and out field on the Larapinta Trail and on Alice Springs MTB Trails. The introductory course covered a wide range of subjects including terrain and landform types, operating in difficult conditions in winter and summer, equipment use, hiking and field skills, emergency signaling, helicopter evacuations, night operations, and water crossings (yes, we need to know that here!).


In March 2023, LTTS will conduct phase two of the training which will include intensive day and night navigation training, survival training, advanced night optics (Thermal/NV) use, and complex day/night mountain, gorge, and scree slope evacuations utilising specialised litters and stretchers.


Phase three of the training will focus on interagency planning, search and rescue coordination and advanced applications of specialised drones for search and rescue, evac assistance and resupply (drone delivery).


Of the many highlights of the course, was the helicopter evacuations, carried out by the highly experienced team at Alice Springs Helicopter Services using a Bell 206L Longranger. The course covered a number of various scenarios involving hiker and mountain biker evacuations in complex terrain as well as flare signaling, casualty loading and LZ preparation.



Paramedics and pilots near the Larapinta Trail loading a patient onto a helicopter for evac.

The use of advanced drones in support of medical evacs was also demonstrated during some of the scenarios. LTTS demonstrated the night capability of it's drone fleet, namely the Mavic Pro Enterprise Advanced, by utilising the thermal imaging capability to track the evac team at night and the application of the drone's powerful spotlight and beacon, essential for search and rescue taskings at night.



LTTS thermal image drone footage of RAAT team preparing a stretcher evacuation in the West Macs/Tjoritja National Park. ( Image: TerraSphere/LTTS)

Larapinta Trail Trek Support will continue to support the development and growth of the Remote Area Access Team, a vital capability for all forms of medical emergencies on the Larapinta Trail.

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