The new Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Fortescue Heli-Med Service took flight for the first time, marking a historic moment for the RFDS in Western Australia.
Its first-ever patient was safely retrieved from Harvey and flown directly to a hospital in Perth for urgent care.
This is the first-time helicopters have been used by an RFDS service anywhere in Australia in its 94-year history.
The new aeromedical helicopter service is part of a five-year partnership between Fortescue and the RFDS, providing RFDS frontline crews with greater capacity to respond quickly to patients’ needs with the most appropriate aircraft.
Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Gaines said, “Fortescue was founded on the belief that communities should benefit from our success and this vision continues to guide our approach to empowering thriving communities and delivering positive social and economic benefits to regional towns and communities.
“Just like Fortescue, the RFDS has an unwavering focus on safety and a strong commitment to maintaining the health and wellbeing of Western Australians living in regional and remote communities.
“We are delighted that this new service will enable the RFDS to continue working with the State’s hospitals and health services to deliver care to people living in regional WA, complementing the existing services already being provided.”
RFDS WA Chief Executive Officer Rebecca Tomkinson said it was a momentous day for the Flying Doctor and Fortescue in Western Australia.
“From today, the new RFDS Fortescue Heli-Med Service will make a life-saving difference to Western Australians who need urgent assistance in regional locations,” she said.
“The RFDS is proud to be partnering with Fortescue on this innovation and we both look forward to its success.
“This is a fantastic example of community working together to provide the best possible care for the regional communities who have trusted the RFDS for almost a century.”
The RFDS Fortescue Heli-Med Service will be used for hospital-to-hospital transfers within a 250km radius of Perth. The two EC-145 aeromedical helicopters will work alongside the rest of the RFDS fleet, offering greater flexibility to meet patient needs.
The helicopters are equipped with the most advanced aeromedical equipment in the world and RFDS doctors and flight nurses have undergone additional training for the new aircraft.