A modern mantle of safety
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.