On December 2, local dignitaries, past and present staff members, supporters and family and friends came together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the RFDS Townsville base.
In its first year of operation between 1996 and 1997 the Townsville Base had one aircraft and nine staff. Today there are 34 staff and two aircraft, with the possibility of a third, one of the new B350 Beechcraft Super King Air in early 2017.
Speaking at the event was RFDS Flight Nurse, Debbie Schmitt. Debbie was on the first flight tasked from the Townsville base in 1996.
"On the first flight we picked up an elderly lady in Mackay. Since then I've been to Mackay a further 795 times," she joked.
Deputy Mayor of Townsville, Cr Les walker thanked the RFDS for providing vital aeromedical service, saying the service helped contribute to the ongoing viability of people living, working and travelling in rural and remote Queensland.
His sentiments were backed up by RFDS CEO Nino Di Marco, who told the gathered crowd of the amazing work carried out by the Townsville Base staff.
"As part of their enduring legacy of service, the Townsville team provide aeromedical care to close to 2000 patients annually, while flying 3865 kilometres per day or nearly 1.4 million kilometres a year," Mr Di Marco said.
"They provide a vital link to the state's north and south and Queensland's major acute hospital facilities, in Townsville and Brisbane, while assisting patients as far south as Brisbane, north to Mornington Island, west from Mount Isa and all towns and several stations in between."
Since 2013, the Townsville Base has also assisted in the operational management of the QCoal Community Dental Unit, a service that has delivered vital oral health care to more than 7,000 patients across central and northern Queensland.
When the dental team are not travelling, many of them call Townsville home.
The entire team at Townsville pride themselves on their operational performance and service availability and everyone at the RFDS is justifiably proud of them for what they have achieved and will continue to achieve in the future.