Queensland Ambulance Service

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"QAS" redirects here. For other uses, see QAS (disambiguation).
Queensland Ambulance Service
Queensland Ambulance Service (logo).png
Agency overview
Formed 1 July 1991
Preceding agencies
  • City Ambulance Transport Brigade (est. ca. 1892)
  • Queensland Ambulance Service Transport Brigades
Jurisdiction The State of Queensland
Employees 4000
Agency executives
  • Russell Bowles ASM, Commissioner
  • David Eels ASM, Deputy Commissioner
Parent agency Queensland Health
Website www.ambulance.qld.gov.au

The Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) is the chief provider of out-of-hospital emergency care and ambulance transport in the state of Queensland, Australia. It falls under the control of the Queensland Health and is one of the largest ambulance services in the world.[1]

The service provides a high level of emergency care and transport services to over 4.1 million people in Queensland, covering an area of 1.77 million square kilometres. The Queensland Ambulance Service provides emergency response services, pre-hospital patient care, specialised transport services, coordination of aero-medical services and inter-hospital transfers.[2]

Almost 4000 staff are employed by QAS, with almost 85% as front-line operatives, who together deliver their services from over 260 response locations across the state.[2] In 2011/12, the service handled over 833,000 cases, answered over 160,000 triple zero calls and had an overall patient satisfaction rating of 97%.[3]


The QATB Hospital, ca. 1915

Ambulance services in Queensland first began in 1892. Military medic Seymour Warrian held the first meeting of the City Ambulance Transport Brigade on 12 September of that year. Queensland's first ambulance station operated out of the Brisbane Newspaper Company building; the first officers possessed a stretcher, but no vehicle, and so transported patients on foot.[4] A year after the establishment of the Brisbane centre, another was established in Charters Towers in north Queensland, eventually growing to over 90 community controlled ambulance centres.

The Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) as currently known was formed on 1 July 1991 from the amalgamation of 96 individual Queensland Ambulance Service Transport Brigades (QATB). While QAS originally operated under the banner of the Department of Emergency Services, in 2009 the Queensland Government restructured the organisational hierarchy and appointed new Ministers. It became part of the Department of Community Safety, along with the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service, Emergency Management Queensland and Department of Corrective Services.[4] As a result of the Keelty Review of Police and Community Safety in Queensland, the QAS transitioned into the Queensland Department of Health as of 1 October 2013, retaining its separate identity, rank structure and Commissioner.

Structure and operations[edit]


The QAS was initially divided into six operational regions across Queensland, until the Northern Region was split to form 'Far Northern Region'. This model reflected a similar structure in the then Queensland Fire and Rescue Authority. In 2012, the QAS Structural Reform Report, a comprehensive review of QAS operations, lead to a restructure of operations, and a decentralisation of control to local networks.[5] Instead of large regions, the service would be divided into fifteen geographical Local Ambulance Service Networks (LASNs) aligning with Queensland Health Health and Hospital Service Networks.[6] A sixteenth network was established as State Operations Centres, with the existing seven communications centres to become Operations Centres, reporting directly to a central Assistant Commissioner. The LASNs vary in size according to population and stations, and are categorised from Category 1 (largest) to Category 5 (smallest). The categorisation simply reflects their size and gives a foundation for staffing allocation and command structure.

Local Ambulance Service Networks[edit]

Category 1 (General Manager - Assistant Commissioner)[edit]

  • Metro North
  • Metro South

Category 2 (General Manager - Assistant Commissioner)[edit]

  • Cairns
  • Darling Downs
  • Gold Coast
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Townsville

Category 3 (Director - Chief Superintendent)[edit]

  • Central Queensland

Category 4 (Director - Chief Superintendent)[edit]

  • Mackay
  • West Moreton
  • Wide Bay

Category 5 (Executive Manager - Superintendent)[edit]

  • Cape York & Torres Strait
  • Central West
  • North West
  • South West

State Operations - Assistant Commissioner[edit]

  • Seven Operations Centres (Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Maroochydore, Toowoomba, Brisbane, Southport)


  • Office of the Commissioner
  • Office of the Deputy Commissioner
  • Executive Director State LASN Operations - Assistant Commissioner
  • Executive Director Capability & Development - Assistant Commissioner
  • Executive Director Operational Performance & Business Support - Assistant Commissioner

Clinical Operations[edit]

Following a redesign in 2014, the overall Clinical Governance of the Service is ensured by the Director of Clinical Quality & Patient Safety, currently filled by A/Chief Superintendent Tony Hucker ASM. The office ensures that patient care services provided by officers of the Queensland Ambulance Service are delivered at a consistently high standard, and that current clinical research is included within contemporary practice. The office also responsible for QAS Policy on Staff Health and Wellbeing and setting medical priorities for ambulance resource dispatch. There are several Senior Medical Advisors within the directorate, including Dr Stephen Rashford ASM FACEM, and Dr Rob Cardwell FACEM.

Ambulance operations of the Queensland Ambulance Service are performed predominantly by its own operational staff. QAS operational staff include Student Paramedics, Advanced Care Paramedics (ACPs), Critical Care Paramedics (formally known as Intensive Care Paramedics), Patient Transport Officers (PTOs) and Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMDs).[1] In some of Queensland's rural areas, QAS First Responders provide emergency care until the arrival of paramedics, while in remote areas First Responders may also work as volunteer drivers or operate ground transport vehicles (such as the Torres Strait). In some areas, non-QAS staff operate the QAS ambulances as unpaid volunteers, or as QHealth nurses as part of a hospital-based ambulance station, for example in Morven and Thargomindah.

Advanced Care Paramedics possess either a Diploma of Paramedical Science (Ambulance) or a Bachelor of Health Science (Paramedic) or equivalent qualifications.[7] In addition to this, an Critical Care Paramedic possesses a Graduate Diploma in Intensive Care Paramedic Practice or equivalent.[8] ACPs and CCPs attend medical, surgical and trauma emergencies. Patient Transport Officers possess a Certificate III in Non-Emergency Patient Transport or equivalent, and provide non-emergency patient transport services.[9] Emergency Medical Dispatchers have completed a Certificate III in Ambulance Communications (Call Taking) and a Certificate IV in Ambulance Communications (Dispatch) or equivalent. EMDs receive emergency calls and direct ambulance services to the emergency, and advise callers in performing first aid until the ambulance arrives on scene.[10]

ACPs are competent in many emergency medical skills, including airway management (oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal airway, oropharyngeal suctioning, laryngoscopy and Magill's forceps, laryngeal mask airway, intermittent positive pressure ventilation), cardiac management (cardiac monitoring - basic ECG interpretation and 12-lead ECG, manual defibrillation), drug/fluid administration (intramuscular injection, intravenous cannulation, fluid replacement), and the administration of basic and advanced drugs (aspirin, glucose, glyceryl trinitrate, adrenaline, morphine etc.).[7][11]

Critical (Intensive) Care Paramedics typically respond when an advanced level of clinical practice is required. In some areas, they will respond as a single officer in units known as 'pods'. CCP pods operate around the state, focused on metropolitan, major regional centers, or where a rescue helicopter is located. These ambulances are not equipped to transport patients, but contain much of the same equipment as a regular ambulance, as well as advanced equipment. CCPs are competent in all ACP procedures, as well as advanced emergency medical skills, such as endotracheal intubation, synchronised cardioversion, transcutaneous cardiac pacing, continuous positive airway pressure ventilation CPAP, decompression of tension pneumothorax, extra-jugular venous cannulation, procedural sedation (midazolam, ketamine etc.), pre-hospital thrombolysis (tenecteplase), intraosseous access, as well as the administration of advanced drugs (atropine, heparin, ketamine etc.).[8][11]


A QAS ambulance, in original livery.

The most common metropolitan ambulance is the Mercedes Sprinters with the new livery (see image), which is intended to allow for a uniform vehicle across Australia. In rural areas, due to the need for extra traction or rough roads, 4x4 vehicles are common, based upon a Toyota Landcruiser Cab Chassis (1+1 modular 4x4s) or Toyota Landcruiser Troopcarrier. Both 4x4s carry one stretcher patient in addition to the normal equipment found on a typical Mercedes Sprinter. These vehicles (Mercedes Sprinters) are used by both Advanced Care Paramedics (ACPs) and Patient Transport Officers. The acute vehicles carry one (1) stretcher and the patient transport vehicles Mercedes Sprinters carry two (2). Toyota Hiace PTO vehicles with twin stretchers are also in use around the State, along with a variety of other transport vehicles including wheel-chair vehicles. Additionally, two stretcher Mercedes 519 acute ambulances operate around the state by ACP & CCPs, particularly in regional and rural areas.

Critical Care Paramedics (formally known as ICPs) often drive 'pods', as well as LARU ( low acuity response unit) and stations OIC's now often drive Hyundai Santa Fe's (formally using Suburu Forrester's). These vehicles cannot carry patients, however they carry much of the same equipment as the Sprinters, as well as specialised equipment, with their sole purpose serving as fast response vehicles.

A station's Officer in Charge (OIC) or area suprvisors often use dual cab Utes, serving a similar purpose to other fast response vehicles.

Previously, the QAS used Ford F-series truck (Ford F-250 and F-350) until Ford stopped importing these in 2008. These are still in use in some rural areas, however are not common in the Metropolitan areas.

Aeromedical Services[edit]

Aeromedical services around Queensland are provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service in conjunction with the Queensland Ambulance Service.

Helicopter operations[edit]

Helicopter retrieval incorporates both pre-hospital rescue and interhospital transfer services across Queensland and has done so since 1979. Queensland Health contracts six medical rescue providers to provide emergency air rescue and air transfer services. Each contractor is designated a region of Queensland and has the option of providing more than one helicopter to their region.

Helicopters operate from Brisbane, Townsville & Cairns (Rescue 500, 521, 510 (3 AW139's and 2 Bell 412's which are provided by Air Services Public Safety Business Agency), while a contracted government rescue helicopter operates from Thursday Island (Rescue 700) called Torres Strait & NPA Rescue (Bell 412). RACQ LifeFlight operates out of Bundaberg (1 BK 117), Mount Isa ( 1 Bell 230), Sunshine Coast ( 1 BK 117), Brisbane and Toowoomba (3 AW139's, 2 Bell 412's), LifeFlight (commercial contract) Surat Gas Aero-Medical Service out of Roma and Toowoomba (2 Bell 412's), LifeFlight (commercial contract) Curtis Island Rotary Wing Air Medical Evacuation Service out of Gladstone ( 1 Bell 412), RACQ CQ Rescue out of Mackay (Rescue 422 and Rescue 412, 2 Bell 412's) and RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue out of Rockhampton (Rescue 300 Bell 412).[12]


From 2003, the service was funded by the Community Ambulance Cover scheme, a levy added to all customers of electricity retailers in Queensland.

In 2009, the amount payable was a flat fee just above $100 annually. This amount and collection method is designed to provide a reliable flow of income to the service.[13]

On 1 July 2011, the levy was abolished, with funding now directly provided by the Queensland Government.


The ranks feature from lowest to highest.


  • Patient Transport Officer - One silver bar over 'PTO'
  • Emergency Medical Dispatcher - One silver lightning bolt


  • Paramedic - Silver Caduceus
  • Graduate Advanced Care Paramedic - Red Caduceus.
  • Advanced Care Paramedic Level one - Red Caduceus over one red bar.
  • Advanced Care Paramedic Level two - Red Caduceus over two red bars.
  • Critical Care Paramedic - One gold Caduceus (formerly Intensive Care Paramedic)

Classified Officers[edit]

  • Station Officer - Two pips, They act as; Officer-in-Charge, Clinical Educator, Clinical Support Officer, and Operations Centre Supervisor.
  • Inspector - Three pips, They act as; Senior Operations Supervisor, Project Officer and Senior Educator
  • Chief Inspector - A single crown; They act as; LASN Clinical Managers; Workforce Planning Managers
  • Assistant Superintendent - One pip under a single crown, They act as; Managers of Operations, Clinical Managers & other roles
  • Superintendent - One pip under a single crown, They act as; Executive Managers (e.g. LASN Managers of small LASNs)
  • Chief Superintendent - Two pips under a single crown, They act as; Directors (e.g. Managers of mid-sized LASNs)
  • Assistant Commissioner - Caduceus surrounded by a gold wreath with a red background, They Act as; LASN General Manager, State Executive Directors
  • Deputy Commissioner - Caduceus surrounded by a gold wreath with a red background under a single gold pip
  • Commissioner - Caduceus surrounded by a gold wreath with a red background under a single gold crown

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b About QAS Archived 6 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine.. Department of Community Safety. Retrieved on 9 November 2011.
  2. ^ a b Queensland Ambulance Service performance report 2009 Archived 20 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Department of Emergency Services. Retrieved on 9 November 2011.
  3. ^ "Public Performance Indicators" (PDF). Queensland Ambulance Service. Department of Health, Queensland Government. 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Queensland Ambulance Service History and Heritage Archived 1 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Department of Community Safety. Retrieved on 9 November 2011.
  5. ^ QAS Structural Reform Report. Department of Community Safety. 2012. 
  6. ^ "QAS LASN Structure". 
  7. ^ a b Paramedic 3 Archived 4 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Department of Community Safety. Retrieved on 9 November 2011.
  8. ^ a b Paramedic 4 (Intensive Care) Archived 4 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Department of Community Safety. Retrieved on 9 November 2011.
  9. ^ Patient Transport Officer Archived 4 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Department of Community Safety. Retrieved on 9 November 2011.
  10. ^ Qualified Emergency Medical Dispatcher (Level 3) Archived 4 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Department of Community Safety. Retrieved on 9 November 2011.
  11. ^ a b http://www.ambulance.qld.gov.au/medical/pdf/scope%20of%20practice.pdf Archived 4 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "Who is PSBA?" (PDF). 
  13. ^ The Community Ambulance Cover scheme Archived 7 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine.. Queensland Treasury. Retrieved on 9 November 2011.

External links[edit]