The Australian Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) was established on May 17, 1928 when Dr. John Flynn (1880-1951) a South Australian Presbyterian minister recognized the potential for using aircraft and radio to reach the remote outback in Australia. Dr Flynn was in charge of the Australian Inland Mission, an organization dedicated to bringing church services and health care to the outback laying the foundations for today’s RFDS.
The first RFDS aircraft took off from Cloncurry (highlighted in graphic) in Queensland was a fabric-covered De Havilland model DH50 on loan from the Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Service (now Quantas Airlines).
Two years later, in 1930, the service went national and became known as the Aerial Medical Service. It didn’t become known as the Flying Doctor Service until 1942 and in 1955 became the “Royal” Flying Doctor Service.
Today the modified King Air and PC-12 aircraft can be described as flying emergency rooms, carrying resuscitation devices, neonatal incubators, oxygen, and much more. Aircraft are also equipped with an extra battery to provide a communications system between the pilot and medical staff in the cabin.
Pilots sometimes need to land in difficult and dangerous circumstances using flares or car headlights as airstrip markers. They have on occasion needed to use roads as runways.
Some of the many other RFDS services include advice from nurses or doctors over the radio or telephone and there is a standard range of medicines and first aid equipment available in 3500 medicals chests located in isolated areas throughout Australia.
The service also transfers patients from small rural hospitals to larger city facilities and has health clinics in remote areas that provide access to dentists, mental health workers, nurses and other specialists.
The RFDS provides 24-hour emergency assistance and is funded by the Australian government. It also relies heavily on donations from small businesses, the corporate sector and the general public to purchase medical equipment and planes.
Click on the link to visit the Australian Royal Flying Doctor Service website