A new chapter in RFDS history

Date published

11 Mar 2022

The RFDS in Western Australia is excited to be the first Australian State to integrate helicopters into our service to meet the evolving health needs of regional Western Australians.

Ideal for direct hospital-to-hospital transfers, the RFDS Fortescue Heli-Med Service will provide RFDS frontline crews with more capacity to respond to patients. The helicopters will get many patients to hospital as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Dr Rob Radici, RFDS WA’s Head of Medical has played a lead role in introducing the helicopters and says they can be deployed to towns within about 250 kilometres of Perth, covering much of WA’s regional population.

“For critically unwell patients, the RFDS will be able to fly patients direct to major hospitals and land on their helipads. The new service gives us another aircraft type and greater flexibility to provide the most appropriate and timely transfers for each patient.” Dr Radici said.

The new service has been made possible thanks to a new major partnership with Fortescue. 


CEO Rebecca Tomkinson said, “The RFDS is proud to be partnering with Fortescue to provide this service for Western Australians.”

“The helicopters will enable many patients to get a faster journey to hospital. In what has been the busiest year in our history, having additional capability in our fleet is vitally important to our life-saving service.  

Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Gaines said, “At Fortescue, we live by our culture and values and nothing is more important than the health and safety of our team members, their families and the communities in which we operate.

“As a proud West Australian business with most of our team members either living or working in Pilbara, we want to ensure that regional and remote communities across our State have access to vital services such as those provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service in WA now and in the future.”


The two helicopters were purchased in Germany.  EC-145 helicopters from Germany. The EC145s are commonly used in Europe for aeromedical transfers.

Upon arrival at our Jandakot base, our team of engineers worked hard to prepare the new helicopters for the signature RFDS medical fit out. 

This included upgrading the avionics, adding purpose made Oxygen Cylinders and installing new medical equipment.

Thanks to the generosity of people like you, we have been able to purchase the best possible equipment to provide high quality care for families across WA, including monitors, defibrillators, and ventilators ready for high acuity patients.

Both helicopters have now been fitted out with a full suite of equipment and are ready to join the rest of the fleet as flying intensive care units. 

The helicopters will be deployed to regional centres like Northam, Jurien Bay, Busselton and Margaret River, as well as locations as close to Perth as Rottnest Island or the Peel region.

rebecca tomkinson

Patient care is at the centre of everything we do at the RFDS and the helicopters are an example of how we have adapted our service to respond to the evolving health needs of regional and remote Western Australians.

Introducing the Fortescue Heli-Med Service in 2022 will see the RFDS continue its proud history of innovation and determination to provide world-class care for our patients.

Thank you to everyone who gave generously this Christmas to help launch this exciting new service.

Thank you to the generous donors who helped fit out our new helicopters with essential medical equipment for the new Fortescue Heli-Med Service. Your support is making history.