Simulation technology gives Flying Doctor clear skies to tackle virus

Date published

25 Jun 2020

Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) medical staff are using the latest high-tech medical simulation technology to aid in the fight against COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

RFDS Flight Nurses and Medical Officers have been immersed in high-fidelity simulated scenarios at the Traeger Clinical Innovation and Learning Centre at the RFDS Brisbane Base since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Now, the RFDS is about to begin construction and installation of a new simulation room at its Cairns Base and is calling for donations to help fund similar facilities across Queensland. 

RFDS (Queensland Section) Manager of Clinical Training and Development Ronan Sweeney said the Brisbane Traeger Clinical Innovation and Training Room was generously funded by an individual supporter.

Graphic: RFDS Simulation room

“We’re now hoping to replicate this model across the state,” Mr Sweeney said. 

“The facility, the first of its kind in Queensland and the first in Australia to be used for healthcare, is equipped with surround sound speakers, projectors and sensors which simulate clinical settings RFDS medical staff are likely to find themselves in when on the job. 


“While using the technology, medical crews can find themselves in a paddock on a cattle station, on a dirt strip in the outback, or in the middle of a busy mine site.  

“The life-like manikins can also be programmed to simulate any kind of medical symptoms, including those shown by patients with COVID-19.” 

Mr Sweeney said the technology allowed medical staff to be on the front foot when the pandemic began, and would aid staff prepare for a wide variety of scenarios well into the future.

“Recreating these environments presents clinicians with a powerful representation of the day-to-day working environments they practice in,” he said. 

“We have been using this facility for over 12 months now, however the Coronavirus pandemic presented us with a range of new challenges in how we deliver effective health care, while also protecting the wellbeing of our staff. 

“It is incredibly valuable to be able to have our clinicians don full PPE while simulating the retrieval of a COVID-19 patient in a realistic, yet fully controlled scenario. 

“Narrowing the gap between real-world settings and training environments is a strategic intent for our clinical workforce, and we are seeing that firsthand through this technology.” 

Mr Sweeney said a fundraising initiative was currently underway to aid the construction of a replica simulation room in Cairns. “Ultimately we want to be able to support every single clinical colleague across the state with the exact same technology so they all have the same experience,” he said. 

“We really need your support to help us continue saving lives in Queensland.” Donations to the Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) Tax Appeal, which will go towards funding more state-of-the-art training facilities for RFDS staff, can be made at rfds.co/trainingcentre