Graphic: Vaccines Yakanarra
This year, the theme for NAIDOC Week is ‘Heal Country’. The theme is about recognising the important connection to Country that our First Nations people possess in every aspect of their lives – spiritually, physically, emotionally, socially and culturally.
The work of the RFDS on Country sees our crews carry their lifesaving care far and wide across WA's vast landscapes through remote health clinics, dental services, medical chests and aeromedical retrievals.
Right now, our role in providing COVID-19 vaccinations to protect remote communities is something we can all be proud of. We celebrate our ability to provide these services in partnership with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, patients and health partners we work with every day.
From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the RFDS in Western Australia knew the response and recovery to the pandemic would be a critical and ongoing team effort.
The events of last week around Australia demonstrate what a significant long-term challenge we face to beat the virus.
Today, our crews continue to safely retrieve suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients, helicopter onto ships to conduct swab testing and transport essential health workers, equipment, supplies and pathology samples across the State.
In May, the RFDS answered the call from the Australian Government to expand our service delivery to provide COVID-19 vaccination clinics to remote WA communities where we have an established footprint.
Since then, we have developed best practice operating procedures for the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, including the cold-chain management of vaccines during long-haul flights and road transfers to clinics.
We have bolstered our frontline workforce with experienced and qualified immunisation nurses to establish an RFDS COVID-19 Vaccination Team and support the State's effort to meet the challenges of our time.
So far, our vaccination program has reached residents in Eucla, roadhouses along the Nullarbor and in the remote Kimberley communities of Beagle Bay and Yakanarra, with plans for the Midwest and Pilbara in motion.
As always, we continue to work closely with our key health partners WA Country Health Service and regional Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) to help Western Australians who need us the most.