RFDS celebrates 90 years of aerial support

ON BOARD: Joy Codrington gives an inside look at the RFDS flight simulator during Oysterfest 2017. Picture: Luca Cetta
ON BOARD: Joy Codrington gives an inside look at the RFDS flight simulator during Oysterfest 2017. Picture: Luca Cetta

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) is celebrating 90 years of operation in 2018 as it seeks to continue to provide care to regional and remote centres of Australia.

The organisation was established in 1928 by the Reverend John Flynn and is the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisation in the world.

RFDS has a large presence of Eyre Peninsula, with crews landing more than 900 times in the region in 2017.

There were 416 landings in Port Lincoln, with a further 220 landings at Ceduna, 75 in Streaky Bay, 25 in Wudinna and 18 in Elliston.

RFDS Ceduna branch president Joy Codrington said it was great to see RFDS help so many people in the region.

“It certainly is great to see RFDS landed over 900 times on Eyre Peninsula last year,” she said.

“We are so remote here in Ceduna and so RFDS helps get people to Adelaide as soon as possible for medical attention.

“RFDS also land in other remote areas like Yalata, or on Eyre Highway itself which it has done quite a few times.”

The organisation has come a long way from leasing an aircraft from Qantas in the first year of its operation and providing medical assistance to 255 patients.

RFDS Central Operations general manager of marketing and public relations Charlie Paterson said ongoing support from communities was crucial for the organisation.

“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,” he said.

“Locally, RFDS crews land on Eyre Peninsula 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.

“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 ongoing support of the community to keep its crews in the sky.”

Each of the RFDS ‘flying intensive care units’ costs about $7 million to purchase and much of the fundraising from the Ceduna branch goes towards that cost.

“We do lots of fundraisers and we send a cheque to Central Operations in Adelaide and the money raised helps to equip and buy new planes,” Mrs Codrington said.

“People can support RFDS in Ceduna by supporting our local fundraising events, which are done through cake stalls, garage sales and making donations – we are happy to receive donations, which are tax deductible.

“We have a garage sale coming up in March, which we have hosted for the past three years and raised about $3000 each time.”

She said that from March 2017 to January 2018 the Ceduna group had raised $20,000 for RFDS.

RFDS provides care to more than 300,000 Australians each year.

In addition to aeromedical retrieval of critically-ill or injured people, RFDS also delivers a range of essential primary and preventative health care services, including tele-health, mental health, oral health and chronic disease management.