Who comes to your aid if you get sick or injured in the middle of the Australian Outback? It’s the Royal Flying Doctor Service! The RFDS is Australia’s version of remote 9-1-1, and today I got to explore their official museum here in Darwin. Imagine being located thousands of miles from any sort of care, and having a plane dispatched to your emergency complete with a full flight crew, nurse and doctor to come help you. The work these guys and gals do doesn’t match anything I’ve ever seen in the US – they’re flying hours on end in small prop planes to remote or non-existent airfields, only to then have to extract patients that could be even hours away from the dirt runway. For the people in the remote Outback, and the Aboriginals that call this home, this is how they get medical care. But think of this for a second – even once the patient is moved into the plane, it could be another 3 hour flight to hospitals in Darwin, Alice Springs or Adelaide, or even longer if they have to fly further to specialized facilities in Melbourne, Sydney or Perth. To think I come from an area where people call 9-1-1 for a stubbed toe, and the smallest of emergencies get a full complement of resources truly puts this ultra-remote form of EMS in a truly different light. The Royal Flying Doctor Service is lifeline for much of this country and for most of us something we would never dream of utilizing.
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