Graphic: RFDS (Queensland Section) Health Promotions Officer Judith Taylor
Many people see the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) as an emergency healthcare organisation where an aircraft swoops in during a moment of crisis.
And while aeromedical retrievals are a core element of the RFDS, people are sometimes unaware of the ongoing and preventative healthcare that staff deliver daily across Queensland.
RFDS Field Days are just one of the many ways people in rural and remote areas can access the Flying Doctor’s life-saving treatment.
Graphic: Judith Taylor
Health Promotions Officer Judith Taylor has worked with the RFDS to provide Queenslanders access to healthcare education, prevention and treatment for over a decade.
“Field Days not only deliver healthcare, but they help to build the trust people have in the RFDS,” said Judith.
Every fortnight, as part of the Field Day Program, Judith along with a nurse, pilot, doctor and mental health specialist deliver a program which caters to the area’s specific needs.
“We try to be driven by what the community wants,” she explained.
These programs are not only limited to healthcare.
Judith often organises external professionals such as financial planners or distance education teachers to join the Field Day group and provide free advice and assistance to the community.
When you live hours from a GP clinic or hospital, the need for basic first aid knowledge increases tenfold.
During Field Days, participants are taught how to handle a range of scenarios, from snake bites, to delivering CPR, using donated defibrillators and how to manage serious motor accidents.
Judith describes an occasion where a Field Day taught participants how to manage a quadbike accident.
“We set up a whole scene where the quadbike had crashed and the person was badly injured.”
A few days later, Judith received an email from someone who had attended the Field Day explaining that the exact scenario had occurred and the skills taught during Judith’s visit had saved a man’s life.
“I’m so glad we had that Field Day as two days ago a bloke had a bad accident on a quad bike. The Flying Doctor had to come at night so it was good to see everyone putting the skills they had learnt in action ... thank you so much to all you guys for doing that. It’s so amazing we are able to get that service out here,” the letter read.
Field Days not only give participants valuable skills and healthcare advice, they also exist as an opportunity to foster community.
“The Field Days are always a very social occasion. We share health advice but we also sit down, share a meal and just connect ... there’s always a lot of laughter and gaiety,” Judith said.
The RFDS is not only there for people in the worst moment of their lives, Judith often shares joyful milestones with the people she has met over the years.
“People send me pictures of their kids graduating. It’s a very close relationship in a lot of ways”.
“The community definitely knows that the RFDS exists for them, and I’m so glad to be a part of it”.