Travelling in Remote Australia: Introducing The Royal Flying Doctor Service
Picture the scene. You’re venturing through the Australian outback when suddenly disaster strikes. You’ve broken your leg and cannot move, but you’re hundreds of kilometres away from the nearest town and thousands of kilometres away from the nearest hospital. Local towns may not have any medical services, and it would take hours and hours to travel to a hospital by road…
Fortunately, Australia has the Royal Flying Doctor Service, which provides emergency and primary health care services throughout Australia. As one of the world’s most comprehensive aeromedical organisations, it provides a 24-hour service to those living, working and travelling in Australia.
When travelling, it is important to be aware of this vital service. In addition, you should keep a few key things in mind to help you stay safe when travelling to remote regions.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service
Founded in 1928 as the Australian Inland Mission Aerial Medical Service by Reverend John Flynn, the Royal Flying Doctor Service provides emergency assistance to those who require medical attention in Australia. The service provides medical treatment on the ground and has a fleet of aircraft used to transport patients to hospital for emergency treatment.
In 2014/2015, the RFDS provided more than 4,000 emergency evacuations and is a true lifeline for people travelling in the remotest parts of Australia. It has several bases around the country and a fleet of 18 aircraft that are capable of landing in a variety of locations.
If you would like to learn more about the RFDS, you can visit one of the visitor centres and discover more about the work of this vital organisation:
• The Bruce Langford Visitor Centre – Broken Hill, NSW
• The Dubbo Visitor Centre – Dubbo, NSW
Preparing for Outback Travel
As we have mentioned, the sheer size of Australia means that you can easily find yourself hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away from medical assistance. If you are traveling to remote areas, you should plan your trip carefully to help avoid emergencies and be better prepared to deal with them should the worst happen.
• Plan your route carefully. Sort out an itinerary in advance, and don’t forget to invest in a good quality map.
• Take enough water. It is recommended to carry around 10 litres of water per person, per day. Water should be stored in small containers, and you should NEVER rely on waterholes, dams, mills, etc.
• Take enough food. It is recommended to carry enough food for each person for two days.
• Bring matches (or a lighter), and a fire extinguisher.
• Pack a first aid kit – and, if possible, go on a first aid course before travel.
• Wear appropriate clothing – including a sun hat, good walking shoes, summer clothes for the day and warmer clothes for the evening.
• Apply sunscreen and insect repellent.
In addition, it is recommended that you don’t travel during the hottest times of the year.
If you become lost or your vehicle breaks down, it is important to stay with your vehicle. Look for shade and shelter, and keep yourself hydrated.
In an emergency, call 000 to contact your local emergency services.
Article by Dan Flower