RFDS Riverland Patient Transfer Facility launch

The Flying Doctor launches airside facility in the Riverland

Date published

20 Oct 2023

The RFDS joined SA’s Riverland community at Renmark Airport to mark the official opening of the region’s first Patient Transfer Facility (PTF).

More than 100 members of the local community and business representatives, all of whom contributed to the project through monetary or in-kind donations, attended the official opening of the PTF.

The new PTF enables RFDS and SA Ambulance (SAAS) crews to treat and stabilise patients in a climate-controlled environment, which is especially important for night transfers and on days when temperatures are in the 40s.

“RFDS crews land in the Riverland at least once a day, airlifting locals who need life-saving care or specialist medical treatment. We do this 24/7, through all light and weather conditions,” RFDS SA/NT Chairman Peter de Cure AM said.

“Currently, local patients requiring stabilisation are cared for outside, on the tarmac. Our new facility will enable RFDS, SAAS and SAAS MedSTAR crews to treat more than 600 patients each year in a safe and secure setting.

“With the Flying Doctor helping hundreds of people in the Riverland each year, it is likely that community members will have a friend, colleague or family member, if not themselves, who will directly benefit from this landmark community asset for many years to come.

“This dedicated facility in the Riverland, for the Riverland, will set new standards in patient care and operational response times for critical patients, as well as improve comfort levels for all patients, crews and service-delivery partners.”

RFDS Riverland Support Group
Photo: The RFDS Riverland Support Group celebrating at the opening of the facility.
RFDS Riverland Patient Transfer Facility

The RFDS Riverland Patient Transfer Facility will feature:

  • a climate-controlled indoor environment for the clinical handover of patients between RFDS and SAAS crews;
  • a stabilisation bay for retrieval teams to manage deteriorating patients prior to flight;
  • a spacious floorplan to accommodate multiple patients and crews at the same time;
  • a secure undercover ambulance patient drop-off area; and
  • a standby light vehicle for transport of retrieval teams to local hospitals; and private rest areas for patients and crews.

The $650,000 modern facility was fully funded by the RFDS through community fundraising, new and existing donors, and the support of the local business community.

The RFDS Riverland Support Group, one of 24 RFDS volunteer groups across the state, was instrumental in progressing the fundraising campaign.

The Group has been ably supported by local organisations, including the Lions Clubs of Berri, Renmark, Barmera and Waikerie & The Lions Foundation, which funded the purchase of a standby light vehicle – permanently based at the PTF for the transport of RFDS and SAAS MedSTAR retrieval teams to and from local Riverland hospitals.

The land for the PTF is owned by Renmark Paringa Council, which has committed ongoing in-kind support through a multi-year lease and covering costs such as council rates and utilities.

Operational from October 2023, the Riverland PTF will immediately assist the RFDS in caring for patients and saving lives.

RFDS Riverland Patient Transfer Facility plaque unveil
Photo: RFDS SA/NT Chairman Peter de Cure AM and RFDS Riverland Support Group President Alan Eckermann officially opening the facility.
Riverland Patient Transfer Facility - thank you
Photo: Graham Pitts and Shirley West attended the event in honour of their late brother John Pitts' contribution.