Australia destined for worlds first stroke air ambulance

February 26, 2021

Australia is set to save lives and lead the way internationally with the latest innovation in stroke treatment and care – a stroke air ambulance.

Stroke Foundation is thrilled to be a primary partner in The Stroke Golden Hour research project awarded $40 million under Stage Two of the Frontier Health and Medical Research Initiative.

The Stroke Golden Hour project is developing lightweight brain scanners that are more portable, meaning they can be put into ambulances on the roads and in the air. This will allow rapid diagnosis and treatment to those who have a stroke, saving lives and reducing disability.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said the project had the potential to revolutionise treatment of stroke nationally and internationally.

“I am thrilled at today’s announcement, the development of this technology will save lives,’’ Ms McGowan said.

“For too long Australians living in our regional and rural areas have been denied the high-quality stroke treatment provided to their metropolitan based counterparts. Today’s announcement is an exciting step forward in seeing that end.

“Our country’s broad geography will no longer be a barrier to time-critical stroke treatment.”

Currently regional and rural Australians are overrepresented in stroke statistics. More than 27,000 Australians will experience a stroke for the first time this year. Rural and regional Australians are 17 percent more likely to have a stroke and are more likely to have a poorer outcome due to limited access to stroke specialists, treatments, and care.

Ms McGowan said when treating stroke, ‘time is brain’. Treatment needs to be offered within the first few hours and preferably within the first ‘Golden Hour’. In a country the size of Australia, this has been a problem.

“Our solution is to move the stroke unit to the patient, to treat them as early as possible, using home-grown, game-changing technologies,’’ she said.

This research project is led by co-chief investigators Professors Geoffrey Donnan and Stephen Davis at The University of Melbourne and the Royal Melbourne Hospital (RMH) and brings together experts from more than 30 of Australia’s leading health and academic institutes and charities as The Australian Stroke Alliance.

Professor Davis, said the aim was to reduce mortality and narrow the urban, rural and Indigenous healthcare gaps.

“Your postcode should not determine your access to world class stroke treatment,” Prof Davis said.

Professor Donnan said this program has scope to transform stroke treatment around the world.

“It is incredible to be doing work that has the potential to be so revolutionary here in Australia,” Prof Donnan said.

Today’s announcement by the Federal Government, follows an initial $1 million grant, awarded in 2019 through the Medical Research Future Fund to kickstart the project. As additional $4 million towards the project has been provided by philanthropic partners.

For more on the Australian Stroke Alliance


Australian Stroke Alliance
The Australian Stroke Alliance is an extensive partnership network aligned with Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) strategic priorities. It brings together more than 30 leaders from diverse sectors including key academic, health, consumer and commercial agencies. Our vision is to develop world-first disruptive technologies that will radically transform access to early pre-hospital treatments and dramatically improve stroke outcomes for all Australians.  

The Alliance includes: The University of Melbourne, The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Ambulance Victoria, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Council of Ambulance Authorities, RMIT University, Stroke Foundation and Neurosciences Victoria.
For more on the Australian Stroke Alliance