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RFDS Supporting Mining Emergency Response

RFDS supports emergencies in mining and MERC

The unique aeromedical skills and expertise of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) when retrieving patients with life threatening injuries was showcased at the 2019 Mining Emergency Response Competition (MERC) held at Langley Park on November 22-24.

Participating in the competition for the first time, the RFDS presented a mock scenario where a remotely located patient has suffered severe burns as a result of a workplace incident, requiring specialist care only available in Perth.

The team shared with mine site medics the systematic process and considerations that are made when preparing the patient for aeromedical transport.

This includes having a team with the necessary skills to assess the patient, determining and implementing requirements in a timely manner and the implications of location, geography, local resources and physiological considerations of transport.

On average, RFDS retrieval teams respond to 24 patients a day from across more than 2.5 million square kilometres of Western Australia – from country hospitals, mine sites, remote nursing posts and locations far from medical facilities or specialist care. 


RFDS Western Operations Head of Nursing Paul Ingram said simulation scenarios presented at MERC offered a valuable opportunity for the state’s health and emergency services network to come together to learn and share best practices with one another.

“On any given day, our highly trained doctors, nurses and pilots are reacting and responding to a wide range of emergencies in sometimes challenging and unpredictable conditions,” Mr Ingram said.

“In a state as vast and remote as ours, we often work in collaboration with emergency services in the regions when retrieving patients so it’s crucial to have a mutual understanding of each other’s work environment and processes.

“We play a vital role in the state’s emergency and health services network and look forward to strengthening ties with our peers to ensure the best health outcomes for all who live, work and travel across our great state.”

The Flying Doctor’s 24-hour emergency aeromedical retrieval service and primary health care services have for many decades provided a ‘mantle of safety’ for mine site workers and their families in the regions.

Last year, the Flying Doctor retrieved 215 patients directly from mine sites across Western Australia.

Image: RFDS Supplied

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