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CAA Awards for Excellence


The Australasian Ambulance Awards for Excellence have been run by the Council of Ambulance Authorities for over 10 years with the aim to recognise the hard and innovative work of member ambulance services from Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. The awards are designed to encourage innovation and to enable services to share their work and learn from each other. The awards are independently judged by a panel of industry-respected judges from across the globe.


Entries for the CAA 2022 Awards for Excellence have now closed


Awards For Excellence Categories

  • Excellence in Technology (innovation or capability)
  • Excellence in Clinical Practice (innovation or capability)
  • Excellence in Staff Development (education improvement or innovation)
  • Excellence in Patient Care (patient experience improvement or innovation)
  • Excellence in Leadership (management practice and operational improvement and innovation)
  • Excellence in Mental Health and Wellbeing (innovation or operational improvement)


CAA 2021 Awards for Excellence Publication


CAA 2021 Awards For Excellence Virtual Event



CAA 2021 Awards for Excellence Winners

Star Award Winner

Queensland Ambulance Service

Stroke Prehospital Informed Decision-Making using EEG Recordings


Excellence in Technology

St John New Zealand

Using Machine Learning to Inform Helicopter Dispatch

Identifying incidents that may benefit from an air dispatch is currently a manual and time-consuming process for the St John NZ Air Desk. To improve this and support the Air Desk, a machine learning (ML) model using gradient boosting has been developed and deployed into the St John real time reporting environment. The aim of this project is to use machine learning to develop a prediction and decision support tool for Air Desk CSOs, to help quickly identify incidents from the stack that likely require a helicopter. The tool should then enable faster decision times, to dispatch helicopters to patients that need them in a timely manner. 


St John Ambulance Papua New Guinea: Responder.One CAD

St John PNG partnered with Skerric, an Australian technology start-up with significant experience in CAD systems and mission critical software. The result was the implementation of Responder.One. A modern, web based, feature equivalent CAD system designed entirely within the ambulance context. Responder.One was designed to be fit for purpose, cost-effective, to provided PNG with the ability to scale as the response demand grew, would operate in the challenging technical and operational environment of PNG and was backed by a vendor who was flexible and responsive. 


St John Ambulance Australia NT: SoterCoach - Addressing Workplace Injures

St John NT is the first ambulance service in Australia to apply an ergonomic safety app technology to address personal injuries in its workforce. Following an increase in musculoskeletal injuries, primarily among front line staff, St John NT introducted ScoterCoach, electronic ergonomic coaching devices designed to personalise training and improve an individual’s ergonomic safety. Evidence has shown that SoterCoach improves ergonomic safety by reducing the average number of daily hazardous movements by 30-60%, and actually reduces the risk of injury by 40% in just two weeks. 



Excellence in Clinical Practice

Queensland Ambulance Service

Stroke Prehospital Informed Decision-Making using EEG Recordings

The ‘Stroke Prehospital Informed Decision-making using Electroencephalography Recordings’ (SPIDER) study aimed to take the first step toward investigating a novel technological answer to the prehospital identification of stroke. The main objectives of the project were to investigate the ability of Electroencephalography markers to enable pre-hospital distinction between ischemic stroke cases and all other patients with neurologic symptoms, as well as to investigate distinction between large vessel versus non-large vessel ischaemic stroke cases. 


St John New Zealand: Ambulance Pathway Improves Outcomes for STEMI patients in New Zealand

As part of the New Zealand Out-of-Hospital STEMI Pathway, Paramedics administer clot-busting fibrinolytic therapy to patients who cannot reach a PCI-capable hospital within 90 minutes of diagnosis. The target of out-of-hospital administration of fibrinolysis by Paramedics is to reach and treat the patients within 30 minutes of ambulance arrival. The STEMI pathway has resulted in greater than 70% of all patients being transported directly to a PCI-capable hospital from the scene, which is a lifesaver for the 30% of patients that don’t reperfuse following fibrinolytic therapy, and has reduced the requirement for inter-hospital transfers.


St John Ambulance Australia NT: SWAB CAR - Efficient & Safe COVID Testing Method

The SWAB car initiative aimed to reduce the threat of COVID-19 transmission to healthcare workers by testing patients in their isolation environment. As a result, we aimed to create a better patient experience by avoiding an unnecessary transport to hospital or the CDC, at the same time reducing the strain on ambulance operations.  


Excellence in Staff Development

St John New Zealand

'On Demand' Online Learning Platform

The OnDemand online learning platform has been developed by St John New Zealand to provide thousands of hours of contemporary, targeted, fit-for-purpose, and varied (in topic, design, and duration) learning opportunities for all paramedics. Online learning resources can be added to an individual’s or cohort’s, ‘to do’ list, and any learning conducted on OnDemand auto-populates to the individual’s electronic portfolio of evidence providing easy tracking of continuing professional development (CPD) for professional registration maintenance. The aim of the OnDemand project is to create an intuitive, functional, dynamic, responsive online learning platform, which provides relevant, varied, and ongoing opportunities for CPD, which can be accessed 24/7 from any device.


NSW Ambulance: Elevate Program

The Elevate leadership program fulfils NSW Ambulance’s strategic commitment to improve the leadership and management capability of its staff. The name Elevate represents the journey participants take to build leadership capability, akin to scaling a leadership ‘mountain’. Using this metaphor, participants start with Stage 1 ‘Prepare to Hike, progress to Stage 2 ‘Basecamp’ and emerge into Stage 3 ‘Summit Club’, a Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) network. 



Excellence in Patient Care

Ambulance Victoria


Telehealth Prehospital Response of Mental health and Paramedic Team (TelePROMPT) is a pre-hospital response partnering on-scene paramedics with a mental health clinician through telehealth, accessing state-wide mental health records for rapid specialist mental health assessment and triage of patients. TelePROMPT aims to better connect mental health consumers to the right care, at the right time to improve their healthcare experience and outcomes. Benefits of this program include upskilling paramedics as they work closely with mental health clinicians, and reducing the demand by hospital emergency departments. 


 Ambulance Victoria: Melbourne Mobile Stroke Unit

The Melbourne Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) is a specialised, fully-equipped Ambulance Victoria vehicle, complete with a built-in CT scanner and on-board acute stroke personnel, dedicated to providing specialised pre-hospital care to acute stroke patients (both ischaemic and intracerebral haemorrhage). The MSU aims to improve pre-hospital stroke assessment and diagnosis, reduce the time to treatment for eligible patients, improve access to comprehensive stroke centres or neurosurgical centres and provide a unique platform for world class prehospital acute stroke clinical trials. 


ACT Ambulance Service: Police Ambulance Clinician Early Response (PACER)

PACER (Police, Ambulance & Clinician Early Response), the project mandate was to develop a mental health coresponse capability to explore ways to better address mental health crises in ACT. First, and most important objective was to improve health outcomes and maintain the dignity for people experiencing a mental health episode. The second objective is to provide the least restrictive care, by reducing the use of restrictive measures such as emergency apprehension provisions. The third objective is to reduce demand on police, ambulance and emergency departments, along with acute inpatient services. 


Excellence in Leadership

Ambulance Victoria

Social and Environmental Responsibility (Framework & Action Plan)

AV’s Social and Environmental Responsibility Framework and Action Plan takes bold steps to reduce the impact of our organisational footprint and engage our people as part of a more socially and environmentally conscious organisation. AV made a commitment to 100% renewables by 2025, the first such commitment from any Australian and New Zealand ambulance services. AV have established a pilot project currently rolling out an energy resilience test site for solar and battery storage in the Grampians. We also commenced a project to develop a net zero ambulance branch concept design to accelerate sustainability goals. 


SA Ambulance Service: Implementation of the First SAAS Consumer and Community Engagement Framework

SA Ambulance Service (SAAS) developed a Consumer and Community Engagement Framework in collaboration with consumers to provide a blueprint for engagement and to improve health outcomes/service delivery for all South Australians. By engaging with a diverse range of consumers and communities including our ageing population, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, migrant communities and LGBTQIA+, and those with diverse health and mental health issues we hope to deliver culturally safe and meaningful services to all South Australians. 


St John New Zealand: Major Incident Support Teams

St John NZ maintain Major Incident (MI) caches at strategic locations across New Zealand. A framework was developed called Major Incident Support Teams (MIST) which worked to standardise training and competencies, and uniform principles of deployment to ensure a more equitable and accessible major incident support function. MIST additionally, has been working on consultation and development of training guidelines, vehicle creation, layout, and content, and deployment tools to ensure effective and timely dispatch of Major Incident resources to an expanded range of incidents. 



Excellence in Mental Health & Wellbeing

SA Ambulance Service

SAAS Mental Health Co-Response (MH-CORE)

MH CORE crews consist of a paramedic and a mental health clinician, and are tasked by SAAS to respond to low-medium acuity mental health calls to Triple Zero (000). MH CORE has been successfully helping three-quarters of patients to avoid emergency department presentations, where previously almost all of these people would have been taken to an ED. MH CORE aims to reduce unnecessary ED presentations by people with low-medium acuity mental health concerns, and keep emergency ambulances available in the community for medical response. 


Ambulance Victoria: AV Peer Support Dog Program

In 2018, AV trialed the incorporation of support dogs into staff wellbeing support structures, to improving the mental health and wellbeing of its workforce. The project was expanded to regional and rural Victoria in 2019 due to the success of the pilot and the overwhelming positive feedback. The research overwhelmingly demonstrates that the dogs have a positive and meaningful impactful in the workforce. 

NSW Ambulance: NSW Ambulance Wellbeing Workshop Program

The NSW Ambulance Wellbeing Workshop is a dedicated development program designed to support the mental and physical health of all our employees. The objective of the workshop is to provide Paramedics, Call Takers, and nonoperational staff with simple yet powerful strategies and skills that may be implemented in their lives for an enhanced degree of health, safety, self-awareness, wellbeing and quality of life. 


2019 Awards for Excellence


Community, Leadership, Life-saving projects win at the CAA Awards

Awards in five categories – patient care, technology, leadership, staff development and clinical performance – were presented at a gala dinner held in conjunction with the CAA19 Congress. CAA Chief Executive David Waters congratulated the finalists and winners for their exemplary work and commitment to excellence.

“Each year the CAA Awards sees examples of the incredible, innovative initiatives undertaken by our ambulance services,” Mr Waters said.

“The Awards provide an important opportunity for services’ to showcase their projects and celebrate their success.”



2019 CAA Star Award WINNER

The CAA Star Award is selected from the winners of each of the five categories and was this year presented to Ambulance Victoria for its Analytics Uplift Project.

To better support operational managers in driving performance improvements, Ambulance Victoria developed a project to generate better strategic decision making. The project focused on three main areas – improving technology, up-skilling managers and analysts and delivering complex predictive and prescriptive analytics. The project has resulted in positive outcomes including higher levels of job satisfaction, increased in-house analytics capability and the capacity to tackle rapidly changing businesses challenges.

Congratulations Ambulance Victoria. 


Excellence in Staff Development WINNER:

Queensland Ambulance Service: Critical Care Paramedic Leadership Development Program

QAS implemented the Critical Care Paramedic Leadership Program for its team of 400 critical care paramedics. The program has worked to encourage CCPs to understand their roles as clinicians and leaders – influential positions involving mentoring and the capacity to drive positive cultural change. The learning process has been well received prompting one participant to describe the program as “by far the best professional development course I have been on.”


Ambulance Victoria: Peer Support Dog

Ambulance Victoria introduced a peer support dog trial as part of its staff wellbeing programs with a range of aims, including increasing the uptake of peer support and other programs and reducing stigma around help-seeking behaviour. An overwhelming positive response to the trial has resulted in an expansion of the program across the state with three dogs and handlers in active service and a capacity to increase to 12.

NSW Ambulance: Wellbeing Workshop

NSW Ambulance designed the Wellbeing Workshop specifically for paramedics, control centre staff and volunteers. Employees reflected a similar health status to other first responder groups with poor mental health, obesity issues and low physical activity. Since the introduction of the program, more staff have sought help and registered for fitness programs, with 82 per cent saying they feel confident or “much more confident” in their ability to be well, safe and protected at work.


Excellence in Leadership WINNER:

South Australian Ambulance Service: SAAS Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP)

SAAS introduced its Reconciliation Acton Plan as a means to engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, increase their rate of employment in its workforce and deliver equality of healthcare to make a positive contribution to Closing the Gap. The respect and trust developed through the program has been invaluable. It has enabled paramedics to provide early interventions in health care helping clients to avoid hospital treatments and empowering them to look after their own health care.


Ambulance Victoria: Growing Leaders Program

To foster the leadership capabilities of a large group of junior managers, Ambulance Victoria developed a unique program that was inexpensive, flexible and easily rolled across the state. It provided participants with the skills and tools to lead, and enable their teams to deliver excellent patient-centred care. It has transformed the way AV supports and develops front-line operational leaders.

NSW Ambulance: Protected at Work: Best Practice Occupational Violence Prevention Program

NSW Ambulance developed a comprehensive program to help counter issues of occupational violence for paramedics. The program, from training to printed material and executive support, has helped build an environment of zero tolerance, replacing an acceptance of violence as being just part of the job. Some 74 percent of program participants believe they have better tools to combat violence.


Excellence in Technology WINNER:

WINNER: Ambulance Victoria: Analytics Uplift Project

To better support operational managers in driving performance improvements, Ambulance Victoria developed a project to generate better strategic decision making. The project focused on three main areas – improving technology, up-skilling managers and analysts and delivering complex predictive and prescriptive analytics. The project has resulted in positive outcomes including higher levels of job satisfaction, increased in-house analytics capability and the capacity to tackle rapidly changing businesses challenges.


Queensland Ambulance Service: Electronic Ambulance Report Form Project

QAS established an Electronic Ambulance Report Form Project to develop an application to meet the needs of the QAS mobile workforce and replace an ageing, cumbersome and costly system. The ARF solution aimed to reduce the administrative downtime required to complete patient care records, allowing paramedics faster turnarounds in emergency response. The project was rolled out in 2017 to more than 3,500 users.

Ambulance Tasmania: ESCAD Project

The Tasmanian Emergency Services Computer Aided Dispatch Project is a multi-agency program designed to link all emergency services and improve the safety of the community and emergency service responders, using a contemporary integrated computer aided dispatch system. Senior staff from Ambulance Tasmania were involved the multi-agency development, which followed the 2013 catastrophic fires. A range of improvements have resulted including inter-agency coordination and communication.




Excellence in Clinical Performance WINNER:

Ambulance Victoria: High-performance CPR: The development and implementation of a state-wide, multi-agency model in Victoria

As part of its commitment to adopting the GRA’s ten step program to improve out of hospital cardiac arrests, Ambulance Victoria identified two steps as most significant for patient survival in Victoria – High Performance CPR with ongoing training and quality improvement – and measuring professional resuscitation using defibrillators. The model included the appointment of a resuscitation officer, new cardiac arrest guidelines, a HP CPR education package, collaboration with state fire services and training for university students on clinical placement.


St John Western Australia: Revolutionising cardiac arrest outcomes in Western Australia

St John’s campaign to improve survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrests began in late 2016 with the aim of achieving an additional five survivors a year, consistently, for the following five years. A state-wide high performance CPR model was introduced with the aim of improving recognition of OHCA and dispatch; increasing the numbers of AEDs in the community and introducing a community response app. In 2017, out of hospital survivors to hospital discharge increased from 113 compared with 173 in 2018.


Thank you to the 2019 CAA Awards for Excellence Judges  

Our 2019 judges share an incredible amount of expertise and experience across ambulance and health sectors and we are thankful for their time and commitment to judge the 2019 CAA Awards For Excellence. 

Professor Vivienne Tippett

Professor Tippett is the Director of Research for Queensland University of Technology’s School of Clinical Science. Professor Tippett has worked for nearly 20 years as a clinical researcher in emergency pre-hospital care, including seven years as Director of the Australian Centre for Pre-hospital Care Research at University of Queensland and Queensland Ambulance Service. In recognition of this work, she was awarded the Distinguished Services Medal by the Queensland Ambulance Service in 2011. In 2014 she was acknowledged as one of 125 Women in Leadership awardees by the YWCA. Professor Tippett is currently leading a Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC consortium on emergency warnings and crisis communication. She was awarded the OAM for services to medical education in 2018.

Professor Peter Cameron

Professor Cameron is the Academic Director of The Alfred Emergency and Trauma Centre and Professor of Emergency and Divisional Head of Health Services Research at Monash University’s School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine. Professor Cameron is also the Chair of the Monash/Alfred Injury Network which brings together in excess of 100 researchers to form one of the most comprehensive academic groups in emergency and trauma globally. He is currently a Chief Investigator at the Centre for Research Excellence in Australian Resuscitation Outcomes Consortium, the Centre for Research Excellence in Pre- hospital, Emergency Care and a number of partnership and project grants involving injury and trauma research. He has been a principal investigator on a number of large NHMRC multi-centre trials, including The Australasian Resuscitation in Sepsis Evaluation – Randomised Controlled Trial and The RINSE Trial: The Rapid Infusion of Cold Normal SalinE by paramedics during CPR, and is currently a Chief Investigator on the POLAR study of hypothermia in head injury and Reduction of Oxygen After Cardiac Arrest. In the last five years he has published over 150 manuscripts in Medline indexed journals and has over 500 peer-reviewed career publications.

Tony Blaber

Tony Blaber is a degree qualified Chartered Engineer with experience of industrial and health sector reforms in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. From 1994, he has worked in senior management roles providing ambulance services in the NHS UK and St John in NZ. As a St John Regional Chief Executive he also carried project responsibilities for consolidating the ambulance sector’s nine “111” call handling and dispatching centres into three with unified infrastructure, people, processes and systems. This fostered a closer collaboration with NZ Police and NZ Fire Service and led to the Project Team winning a Council of Ambulance Authorities Excellence in Technical Capability Award for “No wrong door for 111 calls”. Tony represented St John on the Council for a number of years and was appointed Operations Director for St John followed by a new start-up role as Transformation and Innovation Director piloting cross health sector, cross agency projects to transform the delivery of emergency and non-emergency ambulance services to add value to Crown contracts. Since retiring in 2011, and outside of some fundraising efforts for St John and family commitments, Tony’s main other work is as Trustee and Executive Officer of the non-aligned New Zealand Paramedic Education and Research Charitable Trust, formed in 2011, and as an Appointed Director on the Board of Probus South Pacific Limited.

Steve Irving

Steve Irving is an experienced paramedic with over 30 years service in the London Ambulance Service, latterly as Executive Officer to the Chief Executive. Steve has extensive experience of working on national strategic issues across ambulance services, government departments and alongside key stakeholders. Steve now works as Executive Officer at the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) on a full time basis and works closely with the Managing Director across a broad range of AACE related issues. Steve is also the main organiser of the annual Ambulance Leadership Forum, which falls under the AACE remit.

2018 CAA Awards for Excellence


CAA Chief Executive David Waters said the 2018 Awards, announced in Auckland, New Zealand, highlighted the range and expertise involved in the work undertaken by ambulance services, and a standard of which all Australians can be proud.

“Some 38 outstanding nominations incorporated innovation in fields as diverse as technology, community support, training, medication and built environments,” he said.

“Our services are called on to perform roles as varied as assisting with the relocation of hospitals, helping children in isolated communities learn what to do in an emergency and of course life-saving interventions.”

Mr Waters congratulated each of the finalists and winners who were presented with trophies at the Gala Awards Dinner in Auckland sponsored by SDSI.

An overview of the 38 award nominations is available in the CAA Australasian Ambulance Magazine.


2018 CAA Star Award WINNER

A tool to detect severe forms of stroke and facilitate rapid treatment for clot retrieval was the outstanding winner of the CAA 2018 Awards For Excellence. 

Dr Henry Zhao, Principal Investigator at the Royal Melbourne Hospital & Ambulance Victoria and Professor Karen Smith from Ambulance Victoria received the Star Award for their ACT-FAST tool, a clinical triage algorithm for stroke clot retrieval. 

ACT-FAST, which also won the Clinical category, was the result of a project which aimed to create a simple and easily deployable paramedic procedure for identification of stroke patients requiring clot retrieval surgery. 




Integrated Clinical Analytics System, St John New Zealand

Integrated clinical analytics aim to support safe and patient-centric health care. This project was linked to the introduction of electronic patient report forms which enabled the service to capture, measure and code patient information for more than 500,000 incidents a year.



Hub and Spoke Modelling, St John New Zealand

The hub and spoke model allows for more efficient and cost-effective delivery of services using low cost “spokes”, moveable response locations rather than traditional fixed stations. The model ensures ambulances can be in the right place at the right time.


Fatigue Risk Management System, SA Ambulance Service

SA Ambulance Service resolved to align fatigue management with contemporary research and best practice which lead to the introduction of a new 24/7 rosters allowing staff to monitor their own fatigue levels. The new system has resulted in a significant reduction in fatigue-related reports.

Made Ready Model, NSW Ambulance Service

The two main components of the model – environmental cleaning of ambulances and a new methodology for supply chain management of consumable items – is a first for any Australian ambulance service and has helped achieve the same efficiencies realised in hospitals – and quality assurance comparable to the airline industry.


The Royal Adelaide Hospital Clinical Move, SA Ambulance Service
SAAS led one of Australia’s largest and most complex hospital moves with the opening of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital in 2017. The service delivered the safe and efficient relocation of 297 patients to the new hospital with no impacts on normal activity during a period of unprecedented demand.


Electronic Portfolio of Evidence, St John New Zealand

St John New Zealand created an electronic portfolio of evidence - ePOE - to put paramedics in the driving seat of their own clinical maintenance and education. It is an opportunity to ensure paramedics are both responsible for their own CPD and engaged in reflective practice.


Establishment of an Aboriginal First Responder Team, Ambulance Victoria

Members for the First Response Team at Lake Tyers (Bung Yarnda) Aboriginal Trust in Gippsland, Victoria, were recruited from the community to “bridge the gap” and pilot culturally sensitive primary emergency response, reduce barriers to care and improve employment opportunities.


ACT-FAST: a clinical triage algorithm for stroke clot retrieval, RMH & Ambulance Victoria

ACT-FAST is a unique tool to detect patients with the most severe form of stroke and triage them to appropriate treatment more easily and quickly. The project aimed to create a simple and easily deployable paramedic procedure for identification of stroke patients requiring clot retrieval surgery.


Sublingual Ketamine analgesia use by volunteer ambulance officers, St John Ambulance Western Australia

The trial of “Wafermine” by volunteer ambulance officers, aims to establish the training requirements, logistics, safety and clinical effectiveness of a novel analgesic agent for use in rural and regional areas. It is believed to be the first use of this type of medication in the pre-hospital sector.