Graphic: Bridget McKenzie and Greg Foot
Launceston Engineer Greg Foot has been recognised by the Federation Board of the Royal Flying Doctor Service at an award ceremony in Canberra marking the 90th anniversary of the RFDS.
Greg was the inaugural recipient of the Alfred Traeger Award for Dedication to honour his commitment and dedication to the RFDS over 21 years.
Greg has been the sole engineer for the RFDS in Launceston since 1997 and he was nominated for the award by his colleagues in the South Eastern and Tasmanian Sections who commended the manner in which he has served both sections for more than a decade.
The awards were presented by The Hon Bridget McKenzie, Minister for Rural Health at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra in August to coincide with the launch of an exhibition showcasing the 90-year history of the RFDS. A total of five RFDS staff from the South Eastern Section, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia received awards recognising them for their various contributions. Greg is shown in the opening photo with fellow award recipients John Lynch, Myra Graham, and Andrew Nguyen.
Greg attended with his wife Louise and said it was a proud moment of his long career.
“Working with the RFDS is very rewarding because you know you’re helping people out, and you are part of a big team of professional people,” Greg said.
The Launceston base has one Beechcraft King Air aircraft, which operates 24/7 day and is ready to respond to a medical emergency within 30 minutes of getting a call.
The RFDS provides the pilots, engineers and aircraft while Ambulance Tasmania provides the medical team, serving communities across Tasmania and the Bass Strait Islands.
Greg said he realised how important his work is when he got an early morning call from his son on Flinders Island three years ago.
“He rang up and said if you can get the plane ready get in there quick, because his partner was pregnant with twins and had gone into labour 10 weeks early,” Greg said.
“I realised then how important the service really is. You know it’s important for the plane to be serviceable and ready to go, but when it’s family it really hits home.”
Greg’s grandchildren, Ethan and Evan, were born in Hobart and stayed there for 10 weeks in neo-natal care before they were flown by the RFDS to Launceston Hospital and then home.
They are now healthy, happy three-year-old boys and Greg is a proud grandfather as well as a proud engineer for the RFDS.
“I hope to work with the RFDS for another 20 years if I can,” Greg said.