News & Media

Sky’s The Limit With Royal Flying Doctors WA’s Victory & Kimberley

In 2019, the Royal Flying Doctor Service Western Operations (RFSDWO) won the 29th INCITE Awards’ Mal Bryce Tech Company of the Year Award. 

Petra Vanessie

Petra Vanessie

April 3, 2020

The Award recognises the organisation’s innovation in bringing life saving technology to the air.

The RFDS in Western Australia has a waiting room that extends 2.5 million square kilometres across the state, retrieving patients from locations as close to Perth as Rottnest Island, and as far as Kununurra. Last year RFDSWO crews retrieved and aero medically treated almost nine thousand patients and the fleet flew seven and a half million kilometres – that’s equivalent to 10 trips to the moon and back!

In 2009, RFDSWO entered the jet age with a Hawker 800XP based in Perth. This aircraft was retired in 2019 and two Pilatus manufactured Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jets were introduced into the fleet to serve as  “intensive care units in the sky”. This world first in aero medical services evolved from the Royal Flying Doctor Service working closely with Pilatus to include operational features including:

  • unpaved airfield and short takeoff/landing capability for remote locations;
  • custom rear access door for safer, quicker patient loading;
  • built-in patient stretcher loader;
  • ICU capability for three stretchered patients;
  • constant electrical supply while standing.

Close partnerships between; RFDSWO, Pilatus and medical equipment and services suppliers to meet WA challenges, have not only streamlined RFDS capacity, but also made WA a testbed for international development. From inception, necessity made the Flying Doctor an early adapter and inventor as exemplified by the pedal radio. In WA it has become a world standard technology developer.

One year on since the 28th INCITE Awards

In March, RFDSWO marked the first year of successfully integrating two world-first Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jets – named Kimberley and Victory – to their wider fleet.

In light of COVID-19, the one year celebration was conducted virtually.

The first of its kind RFDSWO technology achieved many milestones in its first year, including:

  • supporting the crew to travel further and faster than ever before; both jets so far travelling nearly 1.4 million kilometres to reach 1,300 patients across WA.
  • a decrease in requirement for ‘meet transfers’, refuelling stops or crew changes for long haul patients. 82% of long-haul patients had no more than one landing stop in 2019 compared with 76% in 2018 38% of long-haul patients had no stops en-route compared with 28% in 2018.
  • a decrease in the requirement for clinical handover of patients to other RFDS crews for long haul patients. 98% of long haul patients had zero or one meet in 2019 compared with 92% in 2018 61% of long-haul patients in 2019 were transferred without requiring a meet or handover, compared with 43% in 2018 The number of patients requiring two or more meets has decreased by 63%, showing that the impact of the Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jets’ capacity is significant in ensuring patients reach definitive care more seamlessly and faster.
  • decreased transfer time for patients and reduced ‘out of hospital care’ improving patient experience. Median transfer times – time between departure from pickup airport to arrival at destination airport – have fallen for long-haul patients in 2019 compared to 2018. The decrease varies with actual distance transported: reduced from 4.1 hours to 3.5 hours for patients travelling 1,200 – 1,500km (e.g. Warburton to Perth); and reduced from 7.2 hours to 6.2 hours for patients travelling 2,100– 2,400km (e.g. Kununurra to Perth). 

Learn more in RFDSWO Impact Report.

Still delivering essential services safely

The RFDSWO Crews on the frontline of their 24-hour aeromedical emergency service continue to work through these unprecedented times.

Find out more about RFDSWO’s response to COVID-19 and what they are doing to assist our communities.

Nominate a Tech Company of the Year for 29th Lateral INCITE Awards

This award recognises the diverse economy in Western Australia and the positive impact of technology in the State. The Dr Mal Bryce WA Tech Company of the Year is a leader in the industry.

We’re on the lookout for companies making an outstanding contribution to the diverse economy of Western Australia, standing in its own right while changing and transforming industry.

If you know a WA company or organisation that fits this bill, please let us know about it by emailing [email protected]

Petra Vanessie

Petra Vanessie

INCITE Marketing Manager