A modern man­tle of safety

Australian Geographic - - Wild Australia -

THE RFDS SERVES the same pur­pose as it has for the past 90 years – to keep the peo­ple of the bush safe. But the 21st-cen­tury ser­vice looks very dif­fer­ent from when that first de Hav­il­land DH.50 took off from Clon­curry in

May 1928. Each King Air B200 plane, for ex­am­ple, now costs $9 mil­lion. Then it needs cus­tomi­sa­tion, at a fur­ther cost of $1.5 mil­lion, which in­cludes fit­ting a cargo door to al­low stretch­ers into the plane and in­stalling med­i­cal equip­ment.

The Bro­ken Hill fleet will soon be aug­mented by some King Air 350s, and the Broome base is abuzz with the re­cent ac­qui­si­tion of two Pi­la­tus PC-24 jets.

Tech­nol­ogy isn’t lim­ited to the air: the RFDS is the first group in Aus­tralia to use SPOT, a ser­vice plan­ning op­ti­mi­sa­tion tool that al­lows the RFDS to project health ser­vice re­quire­ments. It over­lays maps with Aus­tralian Bu­reau of Sta­tis­tics data on pop­u­la­tions and dis­tances to med­i­cal care, tak­ing into ac­count fac­tors such as road con­di­tions.

It al­lows staff to ac­cu­rately as­sess what health­care par­tic­u­lar com­mu­ni­ties need and how best to pro­vide it. These tech­nolo­gies, how­ever, will al­ways be al­lied with the deep com­mu­nity knowl­edge and hu­man touch of the RFDS’s ded­i­cated staff.

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