The communities of South Australia and the Northern Territory will soon be cared for 24/7 by the world's first purpose-built aeromedical jet, the RFDS Medi-Jet 24. A flying intensive care unit, the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 packages the Royal Flying Doctor Service's signature ICU aeromedical interior and patient loading system with the performance and versatility of the Pilatus PC-24.
“Funded by bequests, our corporate sponsors and donations from the community, the $13 million RFDS Medi-Jet 24 will enhance patient care and help save more lives,” says RFDS Central Operations CEO Tony Vaughan.
In recognition of its major sponsorship, the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 will be badged with the S Kidman & Co. logo for the next three years.
Vaughan continues: “Today is a major milestone and signals a new era for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The RFDS Medi-Jet 24 will slash the flying time of long-haul critical patient evacuations, as well as provide the capacity to transfer three stretchered ICU patients and four clinicians on the one mission.
“Another unique feature of the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 is our custom rear patient loading door with built-in stretcher loader, which will further reduce total mission times by the safer and quicker loading of patients and specialist medical equipment."
Four years in the design and construction, the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 is one of only three purpose-built aeromedical jets in the world; one to serve communities through the central corridor of the country from the RFDS Adelaide base to the RFDS Darwin base, and the other two with RFDS Western Operations located in Perth and Broome.
Speaking at the unveiling, the SA Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said that over the past 90-plus years the RFDS had become a vital part of life for outback communities and is well-respected by all South Australians.
“The addition of the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 further cements the RFDS' well-earned and hard-won reputation, and will further enhance South Australia's aeromedical response capability,” he states. “While the people of this state hope that they will never need the services provided by the RFDS, they are both immensely proud and extremely grateful that the RFDS continues to provide all South Australians with the very best of health care, every hour of the day and every day of the year.”
Following the completion of flight training and crew orientation, the RFDS Medi-Jet 24 is scheduled to commence operational service in June 2019.
The RFDS has also unveiled its Independent Grocers of Australia (IGA) branded Pilatus PC-12 aeromedical aircraft in recognition of IGA's new, three-year major sponsorship of RFDS in South Australia and the Northern Territory.
The $7 million flying intensive care unit is one of 75 RFDS aircraft spread across the country.
“This aircraft has been to locations such as Booleroo Centre on 34 occasions, Coober Pedy on 104 occasions, Keith on 46 occasions, Kingscote on 104 occasions, Tennant Creek on 168 occasions and Yulara on 556 occasions, all of which are communities with locally-owned and operated IGA stores,” explains Vaughan. ”Now, for the next three years, Echo will continue to perform two flights a day with the IGA brand sitting proudly on its side along, along with our brand and our crews every step of the way.”