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Drones to add capability to Royal Flying Doctor Service

royal flying doctor service drone delivery of medical supplies
The Royal Flying Doctor service is examining the use of drones to support medical supplies and equipment.

Drones may soon add additional capacity to the Royal Flying Doctor Service with the service examining the use of drones & UAVs to assist with surveying remote aeroplane landing runways and even using them to deliver time-critical medicines and equipment e.g. snake anti-venom / emergency and routine vaccines, blood products and life-saving medications.

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) travelled over 22,500 hours across 7.7 million kilometres during 2017/2018 to deliver medical services to people living in rural and remote areas of Australia. Travelling to remote communities and aeromedical emergencies by both road and air, can be costly and sometimes inefficient. The advantages of drone and UAV technologies to assist in service delivery are likely to improve productivity and response times for the service.

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The RFDS recently announced that it is keen to take advantage of new technology that will enable clinicians and pilots to reach the furthest corners of the state more quickly and more economically than ever before ensuring the Flying Doctor remains at the forefront of saving lives and promoting healthcare.

During April, the RFDS & World of Drones Education hosted the ‘Drones in Health Care Think Tank‘ that gathered leading aviation and UAV experts from around Queensland to collaborate and devise a framework for using drones in improving healthcare in rural and remote Queensland communities.

Medical drones are currently operating in countries like Ghana where US company Zipline & UPS have been delivering essential vaccines and medical supplies to remote communities by drone. The application of drone technology in mining emergencies has also been identified by mines rescue teams for the deployment of essential equipment to first responders.

The mining industry has a long term association with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. BHPs Olympic Dam is a long term supporter of the Royal Flying Doctor Service recognising the benefits of the service to both mining and remote communities.

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