A unique commitment that will remove isolation as a barrier to lifesaving medical care

Article supplied by RFDS

A five-year stint in the Pilbara region of Western Australia during her early working life gave Alice* an understanding for the work of the Flying Doctor and motivated her to make a gift in her Will for the South Eastern Section.

Alice said she wanted to ensure the Flying Doctor would be able to assist people in isolated communities into the future.  

“I have a better appreciation than most of what isolation is like when I lived and worked in the Pilbara region. I lived in a town (Tom Price) that was built for employees of the mine there,” Alice said.  

“The town was built by the mining company and had everything including a supermarket, bank, post office, school and hospital, but once you set foot out of town, there was nothing.  

“It was such a beautiful sight, the red dirt against a bright blue sky and the ghost gums, but it was such an isolated place. The nearest town was Wittenoom, more than 100 kilometres away, and it was several hours to Dampier.  

“If you went anywhere you had to tell people where you were going otherwise they wouldn’t know to look out for you if you didn’t come back.”  

While technology had made the world smaller and kept people in touch, there was no overcoming the tyranny of distance in outback Australia, Alice said, and that was what made the Flying Doctor so important.  

“I don’t think a lot of people who live in cities or even large regional towns could understand what the isolation is like. I got a taste of it, and all I could think was if I got into trouble when I was out there I would hope there was someone like the Flying Doctor who was able to help,” Alice said.  

We are so grateful to our generous supporters like Alice, who want to ensure that no Australian is left without access to quality healthcare regardless of their location. 

If you are interested in leaving a gift in your Will to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (South Eastern Section), we would love an opportunity to speak with you confidentially and to answer any questions you may have.  

For more information, please get in touch with our Gift in Wills Coordinator on 02 9941 8857 or giftinwills@rfdsse.org.au or visit our website flyingdoctor.org.au/nswact/support/gift-in-will.

* Not real name

Latest News from the Royal Flying Doctor Service

Articles supplied by RFDS Grab all the latest news from around Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service.

RFDS Victoria wins Fundraising Team of the Year at FIA Awards – https://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/vic/news/rfds-victoria-wins-fundraising-team-year/

Meekatharra Flight Nurse retires after 18 years of service with the RFDS – https://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/news/meekatharra-flight-nurse-retires-after-18-years-service-rfds/

Roma Saleyards to raise funds for the Flying Doctor – https://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/news/roma-saleyards-raise-funds-flying-doctor-july-charity-sale/

How did they find and save Peter when he suffered a crippling stroke? – https://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/news/how-did-they-find-and-save-peter-when-he-suffered-crippling-stroke/

Near, far, wherever you are, the RFDS has your back – https://www.flyingdoctor.org.au/news/near-far-wherever-you-are-rfds-has-your-back/

RFDS helps deliver first baby born in Richmond in 15 years

RFDS helps deliver baby in Richmond

Article supplied by RFDS.

Jess Harvey was 35 weeks pregnant when she awoke in the middle of the night with contractions.

The only problem was, she was at home on a remote station two hours from Richmond — the nearest town — more than 500 kilometres from her nearest tertiary hospital, and 270 kilometres away from her partner Sam, who was at a mustering camp.

“I called my mum and just cried; this wasn’t how I planned it,” Jess said.  

Friends on the property drove Jess two hours to the health service in town, as her contractions got closer and closer together.

As there were no midwives stationed at the health service, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) based in Mount Isa, received an early morning call from Retrieval Services Queensland to assist.

The team of three including a doctor, a flight nurse, and pilot, touched down in Richmond a short time later.

RFDS Doctor Shima Ghedia said it was a privilege to assist in the delivery of Darby, the first baby to be born at the health service in Richmond in 15 years.

Flight Nurse Leanne Ashbacher

“Jess was an absolute trooper; Sam was there to support and cut the cord, our Flight Nurse (Midwifery) Leanne Ashbacher was incredible, and even our pilot got involved,” Dr Shima said.

“The local staff at the health centre were also overjoyed.”

Jess said the whole team were incredible.

“They were unreal, I cannot thank them enough. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know what I would’ve done.”

Jess and baby Darby were flown by the RFDS crew to Townsville for further care and have since returned home to their property.

Doctor Shima said when the team finally touched back down in Mount Isa, there was yet another reason to celebrate that day, with RFDS Pilot Michael Flood hitting his milestone of 10,000 flight hours.

“Michael has been flying for more than 22 years and has worked with the Flying Doctor for many years, so this was a wonderful achievement,” she said.

“I’m so proud of the whole team and this was certainly a day all involved won’t forget any time soon.”

Providing vital care to those who need it most

Article supplied by RFDS

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 giftinwill@rfdsqld.com.au

Thank God for the Flying Doctor

Article supplied by RFDS

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

Focus on mental health as pandemic drags on

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. 

Vanessa Latham

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. 

Mental Health

“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.

ACNC registered charity, Nine Times most reputable charity, and Readers Digest 2021 trusted brand winner.

RFDS COVID19 Responding to Need

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.

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