Home' Australian Aviation Magazine : December 09 Contents 59
DECEMBER 2009 AUSTRALIAN AVIATION
with three IAI Westwinds available to the
operation. Medical crews for flights from
Sydney come from the NRMA CareFlight
team, as well as specialists from local hospi-
tals at each of the bases.
For both agencies, increasingly they are
responding to natural disasters, both in and
out of Australia.
"Each time there is an incident like, for
example, the Victorian bushfires or recent
tsunamis, CMS Air Ambulance immedi-
ately provides its response capabilities to
the appropriate government authorities,"
explained van de Veld. "We then work
cooperatively under the direction of the
relevant authorities or assistance com-
panies to provide whatever ser vices the
Similarly, the CareFlight service based
in Perth, while primarily dedicated to in-
ternational retrievals, can also be tasked by
the WA Department of Health to provide
emergency retrieval services within WA
where required. For example, a CareFlight
service was utilised to transport critical
burns patients from Broome and Truscott
to Perth and Dar win following an explo-
sion aboard a fishing vessel off the WA
coast in late 2008.
As with CMS, surpluses from Care-
Flight International's air ambulance ser v-
ices are used to fund its helicopter ser vices
in New South Wales and Dar win.
JET FOR THE RFDS
October saw the venerable Royal Flying
Doctor Ser vice enter the jet age.
On October 16, RFDS Western Op-
erations placed into ser vice a medically
configured Hawker 850XP2 jet, which had
been acquired and fitted out in the United
States. is has been part of a long term
plan to enhance response capabilities of the
RFDS, particularly where urgent transfers
from across WA are required.
Branded as the Rio Tinto Life Flight Jet,
the Hawker is fitted with a Lifeport PLUS
aeromedical interior capable of carrying
three stretcher patients and three medical
attendants. e aircraft has also been fitted
with a gravel kit to allow it to operate from
Initially, the jet is being operated under
a three year pilot program, with significant
support from Rio Tinto, the WA govern-
ment, private donors and even the RFDS
e critical factor for the jet is the time
in which patients in rural and remote com-
munities can be transported to Perth for
urgent attention. "In an emergency, every
minute counts," said RFDS Western Op-
erations chairman Tony Cook. "If you can
save time, you can save lives and improve
health outcomes for seriously ill patients
transferring to hospital from remote areas."
e jet also helps to extend the reach of
the service. " e jet can fly non-stop from
any location in Western Australia to Perth
in approximately three hours and it can
undertake interstate transfers without refu-
elling in most circumstances," said RFDS
Western Operations medical director Dr
Within its first 12 months, the aircraft is
expected to transport approximately 500 pa-
tients, most of whom are expected to come
from the Pilbara region. It will also allow for
a faster response to requests for transferrals
from the Christmas and Cocos Islands.
Unlike the Careflight services, the Life
Flight Jet is dedicated to operating retrieval
flights within WA, and will not compete
for overseas insurance work. Instead, as
with all other RFDS services, there will be
no charge for use of the Life Flight Jet.
As the RFDS WA Operations base is at
Jandakot Airport, where there is limited
support for jets, the Life Flight service will
be flown by Maroomba Airlines and oper-
ate from a dedicated facility at the compa-
ny's Perth Airport base.
While it is being primarily used for
urgent patient retrievals, the Life Flight Jet
was involved in search and rescue efforts off
of the Cocos Islands after a report of a boat
sinking on November 2. For the mission,
three trained aerial spotters were carried
onboard the aircraft, which worked in
tandem with a RAAF AP-3C Orion to try
and find 20 missing people.
Overall, with demand for international
ser vices increasing, and the recent entry
into service of a jet for the RFDS, busi-
ness jets are playing an important role in
helping to save Australians lives both at
home and abroad.
RFDS ENTERS JET AGE RFDS Western Operations recently placed into service medically configured Hawker
850XP2 VH-RIO. (Les Bushell)
SPECIALLY EQUIPPED CareFlight International retrievals use Pel-Air operated Westwinds. (Paul Sadler)
In the event of an illness or an accident, it becomes
top priority to return the patient to Australia."
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