One of two Army ambulances flown by strategic airlifter from Brisbane to Canberra is operating at altitudes of more than 1300m alongside fire trucks and crews battling the Orroral Valley fire in the Australian Capital Territory.

The call to action was issued to provide ambulances capable of travelling with the ACT Rural Fire Service strike teams into the rugged Namadgi National Park, which straddles the Brindabella Range.

The ACT Ambulance Service has limited ability to drive cross-country, so the military ambulances are being used to provide direct support to firefighters on the frontline.  

A G-Wagon six-wheel-drive ambulance and a Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle ambulance variant were express delivered with their crews to Canberra by a Royal Australian Air Force C-17A on January 31.

The two vehicles were soon in action, following fire awareness training and an issue of emergency fire clothing for the crews. 

An ACT ambulance officer is integrated into each team, and the two vehicles and crews have been operating alongside ACT Rural Fire Service strike teams. The Bushmaster is operating in the south near Mount Tennant, and the G-Wagon in the Brindabellas in the north. 

Ambulance Commander Joel Powell, an ACT Ambulance Service officer working with the G-Wagon team, said the Army ambulances were of great assistance to ACT authorities during the state of emergency.

“It’s important for them to be up here; we are in a very remote area where we don’t have helicopter access,” he said.

“We want to know that we have the best support available for the firefighters if something goes wrong.

“The ACT Ambulance Service can meet all its commitments on a day-to-day basis, but when we are pushed to the limits, we really appreciate the help.”