08 Community RFDS senior flight nurse Vikki Denny aboard ‘the flying hospital’ Image: Matt Turner, The Advertiser
Flying hospital saving lives The Royal Flying Doctor Service has touched – and saved – the lives of so many in the Outback… but it all comes at a huge cost. Several mining companies are digging deep to ensure the service can maintain its operations. By Steve Whitham
ohn Lynch, long-time CEO of the Royal Flying Doctor Service’s Central Section, loves to tell a good yarn.
I hope John will forgive me for this loose description of a story I heard him tell about a phone call from an outlying cattle station, when a distressed woman rang the RFDS about her son. The nurse listened as the woman described her son’s symptoms and then calmly told her to give her son the number nine tablet from their RFDS medical cabinet and wait an hour or two to see if that helped.
ISSUE 05 RESOURCING SA Summer 2016
An hour passed and the woman rang back in a panic saying her son was worse. The nurse said: “You did give him the number nine tablet like I suggested?”. A pause on the line for a moment and finally the woman said, “Well, we didn’t have any number nine tablets left in the cabinet so I gave him a number six and a number three”. Apocryphal maybe, but it highlights perhaps the sort of emergencies the RFDS Central Section handles everyday from bases in Adelaide, Port Augusta and Alice Springs.
The RFDS is a professional outfit. Staffed by some of the best medical personnel and pilots in the country, it offers primary and preventative health care services and clinics to rural and remote communities. Whether it is a serious vehicle incident that may require a tricky landing on a stretch of highway on the Nullarbor to retrieve a critically injured patient, or the evacuation to Adelaide of a premature baby from a regional hospital… they are ready 24/7 for any emergency in the vast outback of South Australia and the Northern Territory.