Aeromedical & Retrieval
All RFDS bases with aircraft in Australia provide aeromedical and retrieval services. These can be broadly categorised as primary response or secondary (interhospital) transport.
A primary response occurs when a person becomes seriously ill or injured and requires evacuation by air from a location without medical facilities to the nearest hospital infrastructure. For a primary response, the RFDS may fly to an isolated property, such as a station, mine site, road house or small community, to a remote health facility, or to an accident site itself. The RFDS provides this service 24 hours a day to over 80% of the Australian continent.
Inter-hospital transfer involves the aeromedical transport of patients between hospital facilities. This usually occurs when patients with serious illness or injury require medical retrieval to a large regional or tertiary centre for definitive care.
At present we primarily use the Pilatus PC12 and Beechcraft King Air aircraft for aeromedical and retrieval work. All aircraft have a permanent medical configuration and are fully outfitted with state-of-the-art medical retrieval equipment. They are capable of speeds of up to 500 kilometres per hour with a range of 1,500 kilometres. They are pressurised, enabling patients to be flown at the equivalent of sea level, or at higher altitudes to avoid bad weather.
In some Sections the RFDS also uses helicopters, jets or road retrieval vehicles.
RFDS nationally conducts primary responses or interhospital transfers for over 36,000 patients per year to definitive hospital and specialist care. At all bases, aircraft are available to respond to calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Aircraft are staffed with a pilot, flight nurse and doctor, depending on the case, and can generally carry two stretcher patients.