Dr Kieran Hennelly

Graphic: Dr Kieran Hennelly

A career of service and adventure for Dr Kieran Hennelly: Listen to his story

Date published

20 Sep 2022

Born and raised in England, Kieran Hennelly was only a child when he first watched the Flying Doctor TV Series.

Graphic: Kieran Hennelly

The stories of reaching people in need in some of the most remote parts of the world sparked a sense of adventure that has shaped his medical career ever since.

Fast forward to 2011, armed with a medical degree and a love for adventure Kieran moved across the globe to join the iconic service he had watched as a child.

Kieran arrived in a very hot and humid Derby, a town in the remote Kimberley region of WA, to join a team of RFDS retrieval doctors, flight nurses and pilots to provide a ‘mantle of safety’ across the top end of the State.  

It was a stark difference to where he had started his career in a large London hospital in Cardiothoracic Surgery.

Graphic: Kieran Hennelly

Whilst adapting to the heat and sheer remoteness of the Kimberley, Kieran fell in love with the rugged landscapes and the people of the North West.

“Getting to know the characters of these very remote places and flying around a region three times the size of England has been a life-changing experience,” Kieran shared.

Travelling thousands of kilometres each week to reach his patients, Kieran says no day was ever the same and he particularly enjoyed the meaningful interactions and experiences shared with his colleagues and patients while on the job. 

Coordinating aircraft and sending pilots, doctors and nurse teams to the furthest corners of the State and everywhere in between at a moment’s notice takes a special kind of something and is as challenging as it is rewarding.

Graphic: Kieran at RFDS Fortescue Helicopter launch event

In his time on the frontline, Kieran retrieved countless patients faced with a medical emergency to safety and delivered essential primary healthcare clinics to people living far from medical care.

This includes residents living in remote Aboriginal communities, remote hospitality workers, staff on remote oil and gas platforms, pastoralists and helicoptering onto cruise ships to help people in need of care.

Outside of his work in the Kimberley, Kieran also volunteered with an NGO in Angola medical cover of mine clearing procedures and evacuation of injured mine clearance officers within Angola and internationally.  

Kieran also took his love for adventure to the Everest Base Camp, volunteering as a Medical Officer to provide assistants to climbers, guides and Sherpas.

Graphic: Kieran Hennelly

Kieran’s work ethic, passion for thinking outside the box and caring for people in need has accelerated his career at the RFDS.

Climbing the ranks at the RFDS, Kieran held previous positions as Senior Medical Officer and Head of Medical. Then after nine years in the Kimberley Kieran was asked to move to Perth to lead the team of RFDS doctors and flight nurses in WA. 

With a global pandemic on the horizon, he commenced as the RFDS General Manager for Clinical Services in early 2020.

Kieran heads up RFDS WA’s Clinical Governance, Clinical Education, Nursing and Medical teams, helping lead RFDS clinical response to COVID-19. Kieran and his team have spent the last two years preparing our service as best we can to be ready for the next stage of the pandemic and beyond.