The PICU Retrieval Service

About the service

The Starship PICU (Paediatric Intensive Care Unit) Transport Service is a well established retrieval service that is based out of the PICU at Starship Child Health, the only tertiary paediatric hospital in New Zealand.

Geographically the service covers all of New Zealand and on occasion retrievals are also made from the Pacific Islands, bringing sick children to Starship Child Health for specialist care. The service also performs road retrievals within the greater Auckland area.

In 2017 the Starship PICU Transport Service made a total of 259 transports:

  • 42% by road

  • 38% by fixed wing aircraft

  • 20% by rotary wing/helicopter

The service works closely with:

  • New Zealand Air Ambulance Service (Skyline) - flying in a Nextant Jet or Kingair Turbo-Prop

  • Auckland Rescue Helicopter Service (ARHT) - flying a BK117. In late 2018 this will become the AW169

  • Northland Emergency Services Trust: - flying in a Sikorsky 

The nurses

The team is made up of nurses with specialised training in retrieval medicine and logistics. The nurses are rostered at least one transport shift a week with the rest of the time spent clinically on the PICU. The transport service is consultant led 24/7, and a doctor/nurse team that goes out to retrieve infants, children or young people.

Transport nurses must have spent at least two years in the Starship PICU gaining experience in looking after all types of critically ill children. On successful appointment to the transport team, there is one 12 hour theoretical orientation day followed by four practical buddy shifts to become familiar with retrieval medicine and the different and challenging environments that the team may work in. A post-graduate PICU qualification is desirable and up to date APLS is essential.

A 5 day national aeromedical retrieval course is completed approximately 6 months after orientation.

Time-critical retrievals

If a child somewhere in New Zealand requires ECMO, a transport nurse will go as part of the retrieval team who places the child on ECMO and then brings them back to Starship PICU.

In any other time-critical retrieval, such as a child suffering an extradural haemorrhage, the transport service will take the appropriate medical staff on the retrieval to perform the necessary medical intervention at the referring hospital and then bring the child back to Starship PICU.

Contact us

All referrals need to be made by a Consultant at the referring hospital direct to the PICU Consultant on call.

Transport Nurse Specialist: Di Fuller
Phone: +64 9 307 4949, ext 25236. Mobile (021) 195 1720

Mail to: Paediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU)
Starship Child Health
Private Bag 92-024
Auckland, New Zealand