new bags

Graphic: new bags

New clinical bags for RFDS frontline crew in WA

Date published

08 Jul 2021

In October last year, we introduced you to flight nurse Marianne Testi who was then marking 30 years of service with the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Western Australia.

marianne total canvas

At the start of the pandemic, Marianne relocated from Broome to Perth to play an instrumental behind-the-scenes role at the RFDS Jandakot base to clinically COVID-19 proof our aircraft fleet.

Each RFDS aircraft is equipped with state-of-the-art aeromedical equipment and features various fittings for stretcher, oxygen and electrical systems to enable the aircraft to serve as an Intensive Care Unit in the sky.

In streamlining the decontamination of RFDS aircraft after a COVID-19 flight, the bags and carriers used by RFDS crews to carry aeromedical equipment and supplies had to be reviewed and overhauled

As a short-term solution, cloth bags were swapped for hard containers to enable easy wipe-down after a COVID-19 flight but RFDS crews on any given flight take with them a range of respiratory, circulatory, obstetric, pediatric and emergency equipment in various shapes, sizes and weight.

A more sustainable and fit-for-purpose solution was needed to support our frontline crews across our five operating facilities in Western Australia.

What happens when you combine the experience of our longest serving flight nurse with Total Canvas - Perth’s leading supplier of all things canvas who has designed bags for the RFDS for more than 20 years? Pure magic is what!

Total canvas RFDS bags

The mammoth task of transitioning and streamlining all medical bags saw the RFDS embark on a 12-month project in collaboration with bag designers and craftsmen Jayson Whittington and Malcolm Hector from Total Canvas.

It was no easy feat for the trio who in the midst of a global pandemic had to systematically plan, brainstorm their way through roadblocks and source materials internationally such as zips and handles that would meet new infection control standards.

The end result – patient care and efficiency boosted with RFDS clinical bags color coded according to emergency response, featuring clear pockets, itemized, numbered and illuminated to support night vision.

Total Canvas’ Jayson Whittington said he is incredibly proud to have worked alongside Marianne to benefit the health service delivery of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in Western Australia.

“I’m just happy that we were able to make the lives of crews a lot easier. Some of the feedback we have received is that the system is easy to understand, it saves time on COVID-19 flights and has enabled pre-flight preparations to be more efficient,” he said.

RFDS Total Canvas

Flight Nurse Marianne Testi said the project highlights RFDS WA’s commitment to continuous improvement.

“Back when I started we were using suitcases so it’s been interesting to see progressions of the bags over time,” she said.

“Spurred on by the advent of COVID-19, these new fit-for-purpose bags are a welcome addition and it’s rewarding to know this project simultaneously reduces the cognitive load on crews and benefits patient care into the future.”

Written by RFDS WA Senior Media and Communications Coordinator Ivy James. For media enquiries, contact: 0438 941 058