If you or someone you love has had a medical emergency in remote Queensland, you’ll understand how comforting it is to know the Flying Doctor is on its way.
Responding to life-threatening events that require urgent medical care is all in a day’s work for the Flying Doctor. This gripping video shows some of the emergencies the Flying Doctor team has been called to respond to. The Flying Doctor provides life-saving medical care in the most difficult of situations.
Pledge your support this Flying Doctor day on the 17th of May, with a gift in your Will so that future generations of Queenslanders can take comfort knowing the Flying Doctor will be there for them.
Pledge today to support the Flying Doctor in this extraordinarily kind and generous way.
If you would like to learn more about gifts in wills please contact Heather Stott on 07 3852 7586 or email email@example.com
This service expansion is made possible through an Australian Government’s Primary Health Networks (PHN) Program grant obtained by Western Victoria Primary Health Network. Western Victoria PHN has partnered with Murray PHN and Gippsland PHN so that the program can reach communities in the catchments of all three rural Victorian Primary Health Networks. While the exact locations of the new service hubs are still being finalised, RFDS Victoria is excited that all three PHNs have come together for this project.
Flying Doctor Community Transport provides free transportation for eligible clients to their health appointments and social group activities. The service recognises that people living in rural communities can face additional barriers when it comes to accessing health care and social connection due to a geographically spread population and limited transport options. As such, the service aims to make it easier and more affordable for people to attend vital health care appointments, thereby enabling people to take control of their own health and reducing occurrences of missed appointments.
“The greatest cost to our health system is missed appointments,” says Scott Chapman, Chief Executive RFDS Victoria. “For the people who are having to go for cancer treatments or other things, they rely on their family to have to take a day off and come up from Melbourne to get them there, and so people just miss appointments. This service is designed to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“What we have seen with the success of this service is that we are not only helping individuals but contributing to healthy communities.”
Western Victoria Primary Health Network CEO Rowena Clift says they are excited to partner with RFDS Victoria to bring this great service to more communities.
“We are delighted to partner with RFDS Victoria. This unique and valuable service reaches into parts of our community where health services are not readily available or are some distance away. Through RFDS, people can receive the health assistance they need. We also look forward to the establishment of the new hubs in our region to further enhance this service for our community.”
The Flying Doctor Community Transport service originally launched in Heathcote in central Victoria in 2018, and expanded to Rochester in 2021. In these areas, RFDS Victoria’s partnerships with Heathcote Health and Rochester and Elmore District Health Service, respectively, have been a large driver for the program’s success.
“Having already established successful and supportive relationships in Heathcote and Rochester, we are excited by this opportunity to partner with three innovative PHNs,” says Melanie Trivett, General Manager for Primary Health Care, RFDS Victoria. “We look forward to working with Western Victoria Primary Health Network, Murray PHN and Gippsland PHN to develop a service that is run with the community, for the community.”
In addition to its strong partnerships, Flying Doctor Community Transport is made possible thanks to its very generous volunteer drivers. The volunteers are typically passionate locals who are committed to supporting their community, or health care students who are looking for some real world experience – in fact, some volunteers from the Heathcote and Rochester programs have gone on to join the Flying Doctor’s Mobile Patient Care (MPC) service.
“Once our new sites are confirmed, we will begin seeking expressions of interest from locals in those communities to join our team of volunteer drivers,” says Dr Trivett. “Volunteers are the backbone of community transport services, and so we are always looking for ways we can celebrate our volunteers and recognise their generous contributions, such as through our involvement in the inaugural Victorian Community Transport Week.”
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) has announced our nine RFDS Local Hero Award winners for 2021. The annual awards, proudly supported by Ergon Energy Retail and Queensland Country Life, recognise Oueenslanders who have donated their time and energy to keep the Flying Doctor flying. Read about the Local Heroes below and vote for your favourite today!
In March last year, 19-year-old Sam Hughes set off from Maleny in a bright orange, 1957 Chamberlain 9G tractor named ‘Slim’, towing an eye-catching trailer, which now features a small RFDS aircraft replica on top.
Sam, or the ‘Travelling Jackaroo’ as he is well-known, decided to drive his tractor around Australia, with the aim of raising funds for the Flying Doctor and Dolly’s Dream. In just 10 months, not only has Sam raised more than $50,000 for the RFDS, but he has also brought incredible awareness to the work of both organisations.
Bundaberg — Bohdi Wocknik
Inspired by three RFDS transfers of family members, Bohdi Wochnik has raised more than $25,000 for the Flying Doctor over the past 10 years. Bohdi’s younger sister was retrieved by the RFDS after she was bitten by a king brown snake, his grandad was transferred after he lost a finger, and his uncle was also flown by the Service following a helicopter accident.
His fundraising efforts have amassed from raft races that he has staged over the years at his family’s property. Now that 20-year-old Bohdi is working on a farm near Gin Gin, he is planning to pass the organisation of the event to his little sister to continue the incredible work.
Cairns — Karen Koko
Lockhart River resident Karen Koko is a leader within her remote community. As a senior healthcare worker, she regularly provides advice and assistance to those in need.
Not originally from Lockhart, the community has accepted her with open arms. Karen’s praised for her extensive knowledge of her community and their health needs. She’s been called the heart and soul of the Lockhart River Primary Health Care Clinic.
Charleville — The Bauer Family
For more than three generations, the Bauer family has supported the RFDS, with several members having been transferred during this time. When their son Angus was two years old, he was having difficulty breathing. As they rushed to Augathella Hospital, Angus turned blue in the car. The RFDS was called, and he was flown to Toowoomba.
The Bauers have regularly donated the proceeds from their cattle sales to the Flying Doctor. The most recent sale generated more than $17,000 for the RFDS.
Longreach — David Crust
Before his death, David Crust spent many years fundraising, volunteering for and promoting the RFDS. From participating in treks to organising raffles at the local bowls club, ‘Crusty’ raised a significant amount of donations for the Flying Doctor.
Following a battle with cancer, the RFDS flew David to Longreach so he could spend his final days at home. An annual tournament is now held at the Longreach Bowls Club in memory of David, with the proceeds donated to the Flying Doctor
Mount Isa — Justine Collins
Nurse, Justine Collins was on shift in Mount Isa when she received a call about an accident at a remote station around 25 minutes away. She immediately notified the RFDS and took the clinic ambulance, along with the warden, to the property.
The patient, Paul Woods, had been trampled by a bull. While Justine didn’t know the full extent of his injuries, she knew that most of his ribs were broken and there was risk of a punctured lung. Justine recalls experiencing immense relief upon the RFDS arriving at the station.
Rockhampton — Bronwyn Fitzgerald and Colleen Timms
For several years, Bronwyn Fitzgerald and her mum, Colleen Timms, have knitted toys for the Woolworths Toy Drive, in support of the RFDS. Despite the fact the drive is conducted annually, the pair knit year round in preparation.
The toys are of great benefit to the Flying Doctor, helping comfort sick or injured children during what may be an unsettling experience. As acashier for RFDS corporate partner Woolworths, Bronwyn is also a great supporter of the in-store fundraising campaign which is staged each year.
Roma — The Boshammer Family
In November 2020, seven-month-old Zara Boshammer died as a result of a rare disease that she was diagnosed with after birth. Her parents Justin and Kate decided to honour their little girl with an event which raised funds for the RFDS and Steve Waugh Foundation, as well as a high flow oxygen facility for their local hospital in Miles.
Zara’s Day in 2020 raised more than $148,000for the three organisations. But the family were not yet done. They again staged a Zara’s Day event last year, raising another $30,000 for the RFDS, along with $60,000 for the Steve Waugh Foundation.
Townsville — Blankets of Love
The Blankets of Love group was established more than 20 years ago. Since then, a group of ladies have met regularly to create beautiful quilts for RFDS patients.
Over the years, many ladies have contributed to the cause, creating quilts of all sizes to provide comfort to young patients of the Flying Doctor.
Far North Queensland cattle producer and tourist operator Lyn French has a lifelong association with the Flying Doctor.
So too, does her husband Rob, whose ancestors worked closely with the aerial ambulance and then the RFDS to help bring transceivers to Queensland stations.
For more than 150 years the French family has lived on Gilberton Station, an 88,000-acre seventh generation cattle station approximately 500 kilometres west of Townsville.
Lyn says if it wasn’t for the Flying Doctor’s emergency and primary health care services her family would struggle to live in such a remote location.
“Growing up, my mother was always saying ‘thank God for the Flying Doctor’ and I never understood what she meant because I didn’t know life without them.”
Now married, with children and grandchildren of her own, Lyn says she truly appreciates and understands the importance of her mother’s words.
“There’s been a few accidents where we wouldn’t have survived without the RFDS.
“The worst incident we had was in 1999, when our daughter Anna was only six years old. She had a horrific accident while mustering, sustaining a compound fracture to her leg and breaking her pelvis in three places.
“Being an hour from the homestead meant we had to unsaddle our horses, make a bed on the back of the ute, tie Anna’s legs together with the rein of the horse bridle to keep her stable, and travel the 20 kilometres home at a snail’s pace to call for help.
“By the time we contacted the Flying Doctor, Anna had gone into shock. I don’t know what the outcome would have been if the RFDS wasn’t able to fly her to Townsville. As it was, she spent three months in traction before coming home in a full body cast for another eight weeks.
“So, in my mother’s words: ‘thank God for the Flying Doctor!’
“They’re such a constant in our lives — they’re our GP, our chemist, our dentist, emotional support and our mantel of safety — we really couldn’t live where we do without them.”
In 2001, Gilberton Station hosted the first RFDS Field Days for the Cairns-based health promotions team and Lyn says it’s the best thing to happen to their community.
“From the young to the old, RFDS staff have taught all in our community so much about primary health care. We’ve learned about medical issues we weren’t aware of, how to treat snake bites, respond to farming accidents, administer medication and how to prioritise our health and wellbeing.”
As a mother of three, Lyn said administering medication would not be possible without the RFDS medical chest.
“Our chest holds items ranging from antibiotics to heart attack medication and injections for pain relief.
“Everything is safely labelled, so when the doctor prescribes a medication we can easily identify and administer it appropriately.”
More recently, the French family has also come to appreciate the Flying Doctor’s telehealth service.
“My elderly father-in-law has had some health issues over the past few years and to be able to access healthcare from home has been a godsend.
He’s able to regularly chat to his doctor without making the eight-hour trip to Cairns.
“I’m so grateful for all of the services provided by the RFDS and to have had a lifelong association with such an iconic organisation. My children, and now grandchildren, have grown up idolizing the Flying Doctor and I have no doubt the French family will be associated with the RFDS for generations to come.”READ MORE STAFF AND PATIENT STORIES
Article supplied by RFDS. After walking a gruelling 330 kilometres from one outback town to another, Margaret Symes raised much needed funds for the RFDS Wellbeing Place in Broken Hill, and more awareness of rural mental health.
Margaret began her Step into Spring fundraising walk in Tibooburra on October 25th and 12 days later finished in Broken Hill where she was greeted by locals at a community barbecue.
Raising awareness and reducing the stigma of mental health in the bush is something very close to Margaret’s heart.
“I’ve lost close friends over the years from depression, it’s just very sad and I wanted people to be more aware of the services available in Broken Hill,” she explained.
“Not many people I know knew about the Wellbeing Place so that inspired me to be like ‘right this service needs more awareness.’”
Margaret said everyone at the Wellbeing Place has been so supportive of her journey and gave a special mention to her husband, Ross, who drove the support car while she trekked.
“He was absolutely fantastic, bandaging my blisters and looking after my mental health,” Margaret added.
Each night the husband and wife stayed on properties or at roadhouses, which gave them the opportunity to meet with locals and raise awareness of mental health.
Margaret said walking an average of 25 to 30 kilometres per day across such a vast area gave her a better understanding of its remoteness.
“It puts it into perspective that these people out here are really isolated,” she said.
Margaret set out to raise $5000 for the RFDS Wellbeing Place in Broken Hill, but thanks to communities’ support, smashed that goal raising more than $17,000 and became “quite emotional” when she finally arrived in Broken Hill.
“I think because I knew it was nearing the end, but also just to have people there to say congratulations. It was a lovely day,” she explained.
“The generosity has been overwhelming.”
RFDSSE Wellbeing, Engagement, and Health Promotion, Eliza Emmlin, was there on the day Margaret arrived in Broken Hill and was so appreciative of her efforts.
“One of the best things about it is that Margaret wasn’t just raising money, she was raising awareness and through her walk she was talking to people about mental health and helping remove the stigma,” Eliza explained.
“She really admires the work we do at the Wellbeing Place and understands how important it is for the community to know about our services.”
Eliza said locals were right behind Margaret, donating several items for the community barbecue, including bread and sauce from Coles, cupcakes from Chalkie’s, and 150 sausages by Top End Meats.
“As well as the businesses who assisted Marg on her walk with free accommodation, we’re just so thankful,” she said
Article supplied by RFDS: One of the most widespread challenges of the pandemic has been how to deal with lockdowns, changes to employment and financial circumstances, and not being able to see friends and family.
One of the most widespread challenges of the pandemic has been how to deal with lockdowns, changes to employment and financial circumstances, and not being able to see friends and family.
This has put a bigger focus on mental health than ever before. The sudden and abrupt change to the way of life has seen more people needing help and reaching out for it.
The RFDSSE Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drugs (MHAoD) team have been working in our communities to ensure continued access to help is available. As well as continuing to offer services such as virtual consultations and telehealth, the team has looked at other ways to support communities, families and individuals.
This has included the COVID-19 In-Reach Older Persons Program, funded by Western Primary Health Network, which provides practical support to Older Persons across the whole of Western and Far Western LHD.
RFDSSE Mental Health Manager Vanessa Latham and members of her team located at Broken Hill participated in the COVID testing clinic and used the opportunity to check on the mental health of the community, as well as registering people for testing.
“It was lovely to be able to introduce myself and explain the sequence of what was going to happen, and say ‘my background is mental health nursing, so, how is your mental health going at this time?’,” Ms Latham said. “During high demand times when cars needed to queue, it was a great opportunity to have a little chat.”
Like so many divisions of the RFDSSE, the MHAoD team has looked for ways to assist with the unprecedented workload of running vaccination clinics across the service’s territory. Ken Pascoe is an AoD Clinician with the Flying Doctor and in addition to his regular duties, he has been travelling across NSW to conduct vaccinations, and has been tying in his mental health training.
“We are finding a lot of children and even adults have a fear of needles so being able to calm them down, get them to conduct some breathing exercises and relax makes the process easier for them. I am finding that when we go back to administer second doses, people look for me because their first dose went so well,” Mr Pascoe said.
Thanks to your support, we are able to keep these vital services going and ensure the mental health needs of people in regional and remote Australia are well looked after.
Government and outback communities placing trust in RFDS to quell pandemic
On 28 May 2021, the Federal government announced a partnership with the Royal Flying Doctor Service for the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out to remote communities across Australia.
South Eastern Section CEO Greg Sam and the RFDS of Australia Executive Director Frank Quinlan joined Michael McCormack (then Deputy Prime Minister) and Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton at our Dubbo Base to tell the press.
It’s estimated that 30,000 people will be vaccinated under the program. “Rural communities are seeking to be vaccinated as a priority,” said Mr. Sam. “They are doing their bit for national herd immunity.”
Minister Coulton said the partnership with the RFDS means remote communities can be confident they’ll get vaccinated against Covid-19. “From the outset of this pandemic, the RFDS has provided retrievals, evacuations, swab transfers, and fly-in GP respiratory clinics, protecting the lives of people living and working in the most remote corners of the country,” he said.
“Nobody knows remote communities like the RFDS, and it makes sense for the Government to utilise their capacity and knowledge to ensure all Australians are protected against this global pandemic.”
Since the beginning of the pandemic, around Australia the RFDS has conducted 189 Respiratory Clinics in remote areas and seen 391 patients.
Residents in and around Broken Hill have also been able to get the jab at the Clive Bishop Medical Centre at our Broken Hill Base since Easter.
The South Eastern Section is now planning ahead to start vaccinations at several remote locations in remote NSW and beyond, in coordination with the State and Federal governments, Primary Health Networks, Local Health Districts and local GPs.
Left to right: RFDS Executive Director Frank Quinlan, RFDSSE Chief Executive Officer Greg Sam, Regional Health Minister Mark Coulton, and former Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack at the Dubbo base
Article supplied by RFDS. I hope this finds you well in these strange and testing times. Restrictions on international travel have seen increased domestic travel throughout our region since COVID-19 emerged, but then restrictions to travel relating to hotspots in Melbourne, and more recently, Sydney, have then limited travel around Australia.
I know that this has been a very challenging time for families with school holiday plans, and for people in our regional and remote communities, who have often had to cancel plans which promised the the opportunity to see loved onces who live far away.
While we can count our blessings that the pandemic has not reached the serious fatality levels we have seen in countries such as India and the USA, it can be very hard on the spirit, and a test of our resilience to deal with constant change and uncertainty.
The sooner we are all immunised against COVID-19, the better. The Flying Doctor is proud to be delivering the vaccine to our rural and remote communities, and is commited to giving everyone the opportunity to be immunised. Our frontline teams have been travelling to even the smallest communities, and doing everything they can to reach everyone. I want to thank these committed and hard-working members of our team, and to all those who support them, including you. It is important to note that this COVID response, along with respiratory clinics, is work over and above the every day work of the service, including attending to emergencies in remote areas, getting GPs out to remote clinics, and ensuring quality dental care is regularly available.
This is the reason you are so important to us. You make it possible for us to deliver this life-saving care. I know that our outback communities truly value you, and the support you give to the Flying Doctor.
No matter that happens in the months ahead, we will be at the service of regional, rural and remote Australians. Thank you for being by our side, and making our work possible.
Warm regards, Alex Scamps President, Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section)
Article supplied by the Royal Flying Doctor Service
As the Delta strain of COVID-19 causing troubles for states across Australia, the RFDS continues to be respond as part of the national health service.
Since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, the RFDS has conducted 3,095 patient episodes of care for confirmed or high suspected COVID-19 — transporting people who have confirmed or highly suspect of having COVID-19.
Over the same period the RFDS has conducted 191 Respiratory Clinics in remote areas, where we have seen 393 patients.
With funding from the Commonwealth government, and in close coordination with Aboriginal Medical Services, Primary Health Networks, Local Hospital Districts and State governments, the RFDS is running a community-led vaccination program to isolated and remote communities across Australia.
To date 5,122 vaccinations have been given in remote communities such as Tibooburra, Eucla, Rawlinna, Forest Airport, Yowah, Jundah, Birdsville, Eulo, Windorah, Stonehenge, Yaraka, Pentland, Greenvale, Ravenswood, Einasleigh, Mount Surprise, Eromanga, Urandangi, Dajarra, Glendambo, Kingoonya, Commonwealth Hill, Innaminka and Timber Creek. About 45% of these vaccinations are Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander Australians.
The RFDS is also assisting state vaccination programs by facilitating the delivery of vaccines or transporting clinical staff from state health teams, such as Kangaroo Island in South Australia.
Between July and December 2021 there are more than 600 vaccination clinic days scheduled, across 152 different remote communities. We are expecting to vaccinate over 50,000 remote Australians by the end of the year, however aiming for 80,000, as communicated by the Prime Minister.
If you have questions about what the Corona Virus COVID-19 is, what the symptoms are, how it spreads, or what local state restrictions mean for you personally, you can learn more at the Department of Health website and Healthdirect Australia website. The Healthdirect Australia Pregnancy, Birth and Baby website also includes COVID-19 information for pregnancy and parenting and their Maternal Child Health Nurses are equipped for COVID-19 questions from anxious parents, via video call or phone 1800 882 436.
If you are unsure on what COVID restrictions are in your state or territory, you can get the latest information using the COVID Restriction Checker to find out what you can or can’t do.
The RFDS has factsheets on prevention, symptoms and what to do if you feel you may have COVID-19. These can be downloaded below.