Down the wire flight nurse’s of the top end of the Northern Territory

Sheridan Bell 1, Paul Campbell2.

1 CareFlight NT Operations, 12 Lancaster Drive, Darwin International Airport, MARRARA, NT,  0812.
2 CareFlight NT Operations, 12 Lancaster Drive, Darwin International Airport, MARRARA, NT,  0812.

The advent of a new aeromedical model and service in 2010 to the top end of the Northern Territory introduced nurses from a Critical Care background into pre-hospital trauma care and helicopter down the wire winching operations.

CareFlight embraced this opportunity to enhance the capability of the traditional civilian Flight Nurse role to incorporate a service that could access injured and sick patients in difficult access environments within the Top End on the Northern Territory.

The implementation of this service has been both unique and exciting for the flight nursing profession within CareFlight, and is paving the way for future Flight Nursing opportunities Australia wide. This is also a major asset for the people of the Northern Territory who are benefitting from the rapid response of critically care trained medical personnel to these difficulty remote locations.

Up until 2011, there were no health care professionals within civilian emergency services in the Top End of the Northern territory who were trained in airborne winching operations. Since this time, we have gained training and experience in day and night land based winching operations, difficult access locations, vessel transfers, survival training and Search and Rescue operation with a vast array of rescue apparatus including rescue baskets, harnesses and winch stretchers.

Advancing this service in the last 12 months has incorporated the rotational Retrieval Doctors being winch trained for their period of secondment to the aeromedical service.  Furthering the level of care the patients receive at the scene of injury or illness.

Since the commencement of this service, multiple missions have been attended both on land and off shore. To explain this further, a winching mission to famous Gunlum Falls in Kakadu National Park will be explained.

This non contractual service that is partially funded and supported by the NT Government could not exist without the kind and generous fundraising and donations of the people of the NT and Australia wide. With big supports like Territory Insurance Office (TIO) and Darwin Mining Club (DMC), leading the way in operation support.

Access and Delivery of Emergency Care in Austere, Rural and Remote Areas is something we do in the Northern Territory day in day out. We love what we do, we love where we do it, we love who we do it with and most of all we love who we do it for- the people and visitors of the NT. With these advancements in the Flight Nurses professional role and capability, the future I only looking increasingly advanced for our excitingly unique and specialized profession.


Paul Campbell and Sheridan Bell are Critical Care Flight Nurse’s working within the CareFlight Aero-medical Contract for the Top End of the Northern Territory of Australia. Both Paul and Sheridan are Down the Wire qualified Nurses, and are passionate about their chosen profession as Flight Nurses and paving the way for future operations and advancements. With multiple years of experience, Paul and Sheridan are part of an elite small group of nurses that on a daily basis work within difficult access locations across the NT, accessing areas by fixed wing and helicopter air frames, providing rapid response emergency critical care. Both love their profession and are proud to call The Top End their home.