Graphic: Jake Walsh, pilot

Jake Walsh, pilot

Flying for the RFDS is both exciting and rewarding

Jake Walsh loves his job as a pilot for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. He has come 'full circle' since being an RFDS patient at the age of two when he inhaled a 2 cent piece.

Fast forward 22 years and Jake now has more than eight years' experience flying; the last five months of that with the RFDS. He moved from Port Macquarie to WA and has already seen a fair bit of our vast state while working for variousmining companies and now the Flying Doctor.

"It's an exciting job; I get to fly for the RFDS and contribute to saving lives, and no day is ever the same as the next," he said.

Now based in Port Hedland, Jake said he loves not knowing where he will be flying to on any day he's working.

"On my first day flying a Pilatus PC-12, we were diverted to Albany to assist with the search for two people who were in thewater after their boat had capsized. We managed to locate them in time and they have both recovered, which is great,"Jake said.

"I've never yet been to the same place twice for work and that really suits me. The job we do is quite rewarding and I love being part of a team, assisting the doctors and flight nurses.

"Some of the places we travel to for patient retrievals are so remote, you wouldn't even know they existed, like Jamieson

Range close to the South Australian and Northern Territory borders. The people there are so far from any medical
assistance and they are very relieved to see the RFDS!"

Jake says you need to be able to accustom yourself to a changing environment quite quickly as part of the RFDS team.

"You need to be able to adapt to constantly changing tasks; you might be diverted while in the air and while you can try to
plan ahead, things change most of the time.

"Some shifts involve flying at night or in bad weather and retrieving patients from serious car accidents. We had one not long ago in the state's north-west involving 16 people in one vehicle, two didn't make it which is sad but I am pleased that most did, including an eight year-old girl from Broome who has made a full recovery."

Jake enjoys the RFDS environment and says it is a much bigger team than he'd realised. He enjoys bike riding, swimming and camping and has no plans to move on from the RFDS, hoping at some stage to be based in Kalgoorlie.

"It's an exciting job; I get to fly for the RFDS and contribute to saving lives, and no day is ever the same as the next."

Jake Walsh