• Hannah Phillips

Flying Doctor Soars into 90 Years

In 2018 the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) is celebrating 90 years of saving lives in the Australian outback and, more recently, delivering the finest care to injured and critically-ill patients living in regional and metropolitan centres.

The RFDS has grown to become the largest aeromedical organisation in the world, performing over 100 aeromedical evacuations across the country every day.

Providing care to more than 300,000 Australians each year – equivalent to one person every two minutes.

“In our first year of operation with an aircraft leased from QANTAS, the Reverend John Flynn’s ‘Flying Doctor’ scheme provided medical assistance to 255 patients,” says Charlie Paterson, General Manager Marketing & PR, RFDS Central Operations.

“Today, with a fleet of 69 aircraft and network of 24 aeromedical bases across the country, RFDS crews airlift over 100 patients throughout Australia every day,” Mr Paterson says.

“Locally, RFDS crews land in the Riverland twice a day to evacuate a patient from one of the region’s country hospitals to one of Adelaide’s major hospitals for life-saving surgery or specialist medical treatment.”

Latest figures reveal RFDS crews landed over 600 times in the Riverland in 2017, including the following towns and landings:

  • 424 – Renmark

  • 112 – Waikerie

  • 91 – Loxton

“The RFDS is still needed 24/7 for members of the community in their time of need, but it cannot continue to save lives without the on-going support of the community to keep its crews in the sky,” Mr Paterson says.

“The RFDS relies on bequests and donations to meet the shortfall in its operational funding and to finance the replacement of its ‘flying intensive care units’ – at a cost of $7 million each,” he says.

“In 2018 we celebrate a major milestone, and we are calling on the community to keep getting behind the ‘Flying Doctor’ by making a donation or by supporting local fundraising events and activities of our dedicated volunteers.”

You can donate to the RFDS on 1800 813 318 or visit flyingdoctor.org.au/sant/donate

S. Kidman & Co joins as major RFDS sponsor

The Royal Flying Doctor Service Central Operations (serving SA/NT) has announced the launch of a major partnership with outback icon and one of the nation’s largest beef producers, S. Kidman & Co.

To recognise the $500,000 sponsorship deal, a RFDS ‘flying intensive care unit’ bearing the S. Kidman & Co logo was recently unveiled by the company's Executive Chairman, Mrs Gina Rinehart, at the RFDS’ aeromedical base.

The medically-equipped aircraft, the Pilatus PC-12 VH-FXW (Foxtrot-X-ray-Zulu), is one of 67 RFDS aircraft located across the country, many of which serving the outback areas of central and northern Australia where the S. Kidman & Co stations and communities operate.

S. Kidman & Co runs over 160,000 beef cattle across 11 pastoral properties and a feedlot covering 80,000 square kilometres in three states and the Northern Territory. It is owned by Australian Outback Beef, a joint venture of Hancock Prospecting and Shangai CRED.

Hancock Prospecting Executive Chairman, Mrs Gina Rinehart, says she is very pleased to be aligning the S. Kidman & Co brand alongside Australia’s leader in aeromedical and primary health care in rural and remote Australia.

“Our board and our staff are proud to be playing a role in helping to make this happen, and to now have the Kidman brand on a RFDS ‘flying intensive care unit’ that will conduct two missions every day is something we hope will be helpful to many people and help to save lives,” she says.

RFDS Central Operations Chairman, Loretta Reynolds, says the impact of S. Kidman & Co.’s direct financial support will be far reaching.

“The RFDS relies on bequests, corporate partnerships and donations to bridge the gap in our operational funding and to finance our capital-raising for the purchase of our aircraft, medical equipment and infrastructure upgrades,” Ms Reynolds says.

“RFDS Central Operations will invest $50 million in capital over the next five years for the replacement of existing aircraft in our fleet, as well as the introduction next year of the RFDS PC-24 Jet – South Australia’s first purpose-built aeromedical jet – together with medical equipment and infrastructure upgrades,” she says.

For the next decade VH-FXZ will continue to assist members of the community, delivering services ranging from the:

• emergency evacuation of the injured or critically-ill from outback communities

• aeromedical transfer of patients interstate for live-saving surgery such as organ transplant and heart surgery on newborn babies

• delivery of essential primary health care such as GP consultations and immunisation of children during ‘fly-in’ health clinics to remote communities

• transfer of patients from regional and bush hospitals to major hospitals in Adelaide, Alice Springs and Darwin for higher levels of care.

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