Fortescue and RFDS announce new aeromedical helicopter service for Western Australia

Nov 16, 2021

Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) and the Royal Flying Doctor Service of WA (RFDS) are proud to announce an exciting new partnership for the RFDS’ first aeromedical helicopter service for Western Australia.

In an Australian first for the RFDS, the five-year partnership will integrate two EC-145 helicopters to the WA fleet. Ideal for hospital-to-hospital transfers, the Fortescue Heli-Med Service will provide RFDS frontline crews with greater capacity to respond quickly to patients’ needs with the most appropriate aircraft.

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Gaines said, “At Fortescue, we live by our culture and Values and nothing is more important than the health and safety of our team members, their families and the communities in which we operate.

“As a proud West Australian business, we want to ensure that regional and remote communities across our State have access to vital services such as those provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service in WA.

“On behalf of the entire Fortescue family, I am pleased to officially launch the Fortescue Heli-Med Service in partnership with the RFDS, which will help meet the health needs of regional Western Australians now and into the future,” Ms Gaines said. 

RFDS WA Chief Executive Officer Rebecca Tomkinson said, “The helicopters will work alongside the existing fleet of 20 fixed-wing aircraft to ensure the RFDS can continue to provide the best possible care for patients living, working and travelling in rural and remote communities.

“The RFDS is proud to be partnering with Fortescue to provide this service for Western Australians. We remain absolutely committed to our century-old promise to improve health equity for people living in remote and regional communities.

“The helicopters will enable many patients to get a faster journey to hospital. In what has been the busiest year in our history, having additional capability in our fleet is vitally important to our life-saving service. 

“It is my absolute privilege to be part of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in WA as we take this new and exciting step forward and I would like to sincerely thank Fortescue for their support, without which this new service wouldn’t be possible,” Ms Tomkinson said.

A team of RFDS doctors and nurses are currently undergoing training to care for patients being transferred by helicopter, before the helicopters officially go into service in early 2022.

About the Fortescue Heli-Med Service

  • The Fortescue Heli-Med Service (the Service) will serve regional communities including Bunbury, Jurien Bay, Northam, Narrogin and Margaret River, as well as destinations as close to Perth as Rottnest Island and the Peel region
  • The helicopters will significantly increase the RFDS’ capacity to meet the critical health needs of regional Western Australians
  • With an operational range of 500 kilometres and cruising speed of 220 kilometres per hour, a typical mission for the EC-145 helicopters will be to undertake hospital-to-hospital transfers
  • Since arriving at Jandakot in June 2021, the helicopters have undergone a rigorous process to become certified for operation use
  • The RFDS have recruited rotary pilots and engineers to work on the helicopters and teams of specialist clinical staff are undergoing comprehensive training in readiness for the assets to be integrated into the fleet in early 2022

CAPTION: Western Australian Deputy Premier and Minister for Health, the Hon Roger Cook MLA; Royal Flying Doctor Service Chief Executive Officer, Rebecca Tomkinson; Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines; and Perth Lord Mayor, the Rt Hon Basil Zempilas 

CAPTION: The Fortescue Heli-Med Service is unveiled at an official event in East Perth