CareFlight’s dedication to excellence in the management of patients involves far more than providing the best aircraft and crew. Our goal is to continuously improve the model of care, systems and equipment used in aeromedicine.

Through continuous research and innovation, CareFlight has developed an integrated aeromedical emergency service which has defined it as a leader in the field for over 37 years.

Ideas are turned into initiatives that save more lives and achieve better patient outcomes.

CareFlight is dedicated to continuous improvement through research and innovation.


CareFlight started out as Australia’s first dedicated helicopter medical service, 35 years ago. Our founders pioneered the concept of saving lives by taking hospital-level care to the patient.

What began as a radical idea has become standard practice.

Through continuous innovation, CareFlight has become the benchmark for emergency aeromedical services.

Through CareFlight’s ongoing commitment to innovation, we have:

  • Developed the doctor/paramedic helicopter crewing model that is now the standard in Australia
  • Developed the critical care stretcher bridge system, a mobile intensive care unit
  • Developed and ran the Head Injury Retrieval Trial, the world’s first randomised clinical trial to evaluate the benefits of rapid response physician care to head-injured patients
  • Initiated the unique CareFlight MediSim program, a mobile workshop which brings trauma care training to clinicians and first responders in rural and regional areas around Australia
  • Developed Australia’s civilian disaster medical cache and deployable surgical capability. The cache was deployed to Banda Aceh following the tsunami in 2004, and the Jogjakarta earthquake in 2006
  • Was one of the first emergency helicopter services in Australia to go on 24-hour duty
  • Carried out Australia’s first helicopter intra-aortic balloon pump transport retrieval
  • Developed the first medical audible alarm integrated into the intercom system. This allows doctors to hear medical equipment alarms in the noisy helicopter environment
  • Built Australia’s first helicopter medical simulator. The simulator gives crews the opportunity to practise medical procedures in a life-like helicopter scenario
  • Developed the single phone call system to activate medical retrieval services
  • Was one of the first civilian operators to use night vision goggles
  • Developed the I-CARE aeromedical system with oil and gas industry partners: a stretcher and critical care equipment set that can be seamlessly transferred between the multiple transport platforms used in an offshore medevac
  • CareFlight was the first civilian aeromedical service in Australia to provide blood and plasma transfusions at trauma incidents

Medical research

All CareFlight’s research programs explore ways in which we can better deliver on our core purpose of saving lives, speeding recovery and serving the community.

The way our medical research lays the groundwork for innovation is exemplified by CareFlight’s largest ever research project, the Head Injury Retrieval Trial (HIRT). It led to the development of our rapid response model. The learnings not only helped CareFlight save more lives but has benefited aeromedical practice around the world.

Over decades, CareFlight clinicians have made a major contribution to world research literature examining the role of physicians in the staffing of helicopters.

Our research program remains focused on practical ideas for improving care and health outcomes.

  • A trial comparing sedation regimes for acute psychiatric patients in an aeromedical setting
  • Monitoring real-time brain oxygen levels as a predictor of long-term brain injury (the PHANTOM brain oxygen monitoring project)
  • Assessment of the benefits of new blood warming technology in emergency transfusions
  • Management of severe sepsis pre-hospital, with a separate study examining whether nasal carbon dioxide monitoring is an effective risk management indicator for sepsis patients
  • An observational study on the safety of aeromedical retrieval of patients following cardiac events
  • A study that compares pre-hospital cardiac arrest outcomes in the rural retrieval environment
  • The outcomes for pregnant women in premature labour transferred by air, as well as case studies of in-flight births
  • A case review of reported snake bites

The Research Sub-committee of the CareFlight Medical Committee meets regularly.

Medical publications

Our research program aims to continuously explore ways in which we can enhance our patient care and transport.

CareFlight medical staff have published numerous research articles. These have appeared in both scientific peer-reviewed and general interest medical journals related to aeromedical transport and critical care retrieval.

See our medical publications here