In RFDS Western Operations, emergency evacuation of patients uses our fixed wing aircraft or occasionally rotary wing, charter or road ambulances. As part of our system, we also operate a State-wide Clinical Coordination system to ensure that our emergency assets are allocated to patients according to clinical need and decisions regarding priority, crew mix, equipment required and destination are made by experienced transport doctors. A narrated overview of how our service operates in WA can be viewed at this link Clinical Coordination in WA. More detail can also be found in the RELATED LINKS to the right.
Approximately 55% of patients transferred across Western Australia by our fixed wing aircraft have a medical retrieval team on board, comprising an RFDS Retrieval Doctor and an RFDS Flight Nurse with critical care and midwifery skills.
Closer to Perth, our Retrieval Doctors coordinate and staff the Perth Rescue Helicopter for inter-hospital transfers, in conjunction with a Critical Care Paramedic.
In remote settings, we may need to use a variety of chartered aircraft, helicopters, road vehicles and even seaplanes, to evacuate patients from isolated settings. Out of Perth, we conduct a small number of road retrievals when they are logistically more suitable than rotary wing transfers.
In October 2009, we introduced a new long-range medically-dedicated retrieval jet service, Rio Tinto LifeFlight, to Western Australia. The aircraft is based at Perth Airport. It is the only jet of its type in Australia with a permanent medical configuration which enables two critical retrieval teams to transport two patients simulataneously, or up to three stretcher patients at the one time. The aircraft is in regular use serving the most distant regions of the State, particularly the Kimberley and Pilbara, but is also involved in longer distance transfers from Australia's Indian Ocean Territories, the Cocos Islands and Christmas Island. The Rio Tinto LifeFlight jet also enables neonatal transfers to highly specialized services in Melbourne and Brisbane.