92 years ago today, the 17th of May, RFDS founder, Reverend John Flynn, engineered the first successful patient flight from Cloncurry, Queensland and the legacy of the Flying Doctor took off.
In a world where the pace of change is ever increasing, an opportunity to celebrate the longevity of such a significant, national organisation is welcome.
We are proud of how far the Flying Doctor has come in 92 years, always at the forefront of innovation.
In its inaugural year, the RFDS treated 225 patients. Today, the RFDS helps 1000 people each day, delivered through a network of aircraft, road vehicles and telehealth services.
As we navigate through a global/national health pandemic, Flynn’s vision to deliver a mantle of safety for rural and remote Australians remains just as relevant.
Recent months have seen all parts of the Royal Flying Doctor Service working frantically to ready ourselves to deal with a once-in-a-century pandemic. Initially, like all parts of the health system, we feared that COVID-19 would simply overwhelm our systems. Some of the early projections of how the pandemic might play out only served to reinforce those concerns.
Now it seems the combined actions of governments, health departments, health services and citizens have “flattened the curve” and our readiness is now directed to preventing and responding to break outs and hot spots. Still a great challenge, and a challenge that will be with us for some time, but a challenge that now seems more manageable as we finalise the plans and arrangements that we developed so quickly.
During this time, the importance of our deep links with rural and remote communities is more evident than ever. The same communities that have sold cakes, knitted teddies and passed the hat to raise money in support of the RFDS in the past, can now take comfort that the RFDS will be there for them during this heightened time of need.
Perhaps this is one of the less tangible legacies of an organisation that has been part of communities for 92 years. A social contract that can be relied upon. A mantle of safety for Australians living far from the protection of metropolitan services. Australians know that the RFDS will be there at their time of need.
That is a legacy worth celebrating.