In the heart of the Queensland outback, the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) (Queensland Section) Charleville Base stands as a lifeline for those in need.
Diane Dowrick, a dedicated RFDS Flight Nurse (Midwifery), now commemorates an impressive two decades of exceptional service at this vital base.
Diane's journey with the RFDS began when the then Charleville Base Manager asked if she had ever considered becoming a flight nurse.
Having only just relocated to the regional town for a job at the local hospital, she thought the role might be beyond her grasp. But, with a newfound desire to take on new challenges, she knew it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up.
Reflecting on her early years at Charleville Base, Diane fondly recalls one of her most memorable experiences – a solo retrieval mission involving a colleague.
"During one of my initial shifts, my colleague, expecting twins, went into early labour," Dowrick recounted.
"Without a second thought, I found myself on my first solo retrieval, transferring her to a Brisbane hospital,” Diane said.
“By the time I returned to Charleville, the twins had made their entrance into the world and today, those twins are twenty years old, and we still remain in touch."
Over the years, Diane's role has transcended traditional flight nursing, encompassing vital responsibilities as a continence nurse and lactation consultant, showcasing her versatility and unwavering commitment to comprehensive care.
She has become the linchpin for field days and an active member of the Outside Channel Country Ladies Day Committee, an initiative close to her heart that generously supports the RFDS through raising funds.
As the Charleville Base marks its 80th year, the magnitude of this milestone is not lost on Diane.
"We remain hopeful for the future, that this service will continue to support our community,” Diane said.
“Without it, countless lives would be profoundly affected because we stand as a lifeline, especially for those dealing with chronic diseases, during emergencies and in support of everyday health needs.
"Charleville recognises our significance too; that we’re an integral part of this community.
“The town rallies behind us and understands that without these services, the local population would face significant challenges."
Over the past 14 years alone, RFDS Charleville has treated more than 56,000 patients across more than 6,700 clinics and undertaken 8,200 transfers.
“I love rural communities and the diverse range of areas we get to work in,” Diane said.
“Being a familiar face in times of crisis is not only reassuring for the communities, but it also underscores the deep sense of trust we share.
“I feel very privileged to be able to work with these families and in this setting.
"Reflecting on these years, I am astounded by this momentous occasion and to be here for two decades and still love my job is a gift.
“In twenty years, it's impossible to quantify the number of lives touched.
“It is an honour beyond measure.”
Diane continues to play a key role at the RFDS Charleville Base, servicing a waiting room of more than 622,000 square kilometres in Queensland, and providing a range of essential medical services to those living, working, and travelling across the region.