RFDS celebrates 200 helicopter retrievals

RFDS celebrates 200 helicopter retrievals

Date published

23 Nov 2023

200 patients of all ages have been transferred by the Fortescue Heli-Med Service EC145 helicopters since they joined the RFDS fleet 18 months ago.

baby lexie

The RFDS WA is celebrating 200 patient retrievals in the Fortescue Heli-Med Service EC145 helicopters.

It comes 18 months since the hospital-to-hospital service was launched, with the two helicopters adding versatility to the RFDS aircraft fleet.

The most common retrieval site is Rottnest Island (33) followed by Bunbury (23) and Narrogin (20.) In total, patients have been transferred from 45 different locations, with sportsgrounds often used as a landing pad in regional towns.

The helicopters can land on rooftop heli-pads at Perth tertiary hospitals including Fiona Stanley Hospital, Royal Perth Hospital, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, Perth Children's Hospital and King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, drastically reducing road travel time in an ambulance.

Mostly used for retrievals within a 250 kilometre radius of Jandakot Airport, the Heli-Med service was able to expand its service area when charity Rapid Relief Team (RRT) donated 800L weatherproof fuel bunds to the wheatbelt towns of Cunderdin, Katanning and Dalwallinu in September.

“On certain flights, mainly because of weather, the rotary team need to refuel enroute before arriving at the retrieval destination,” Elaine Cadzow, Rotary Fleet Manager explained.

“The donation of the fuel bunds has allowed the Fortescue Heli-Med Service to carry the additional fuel reserves required on windy days to fly to Katanning, Cunderdin or Dalwallinu, pick up the patient and then onto a Perth tertiary hospital”.

Patients of all ages have used the service, including 13 babies and children aged 9 and under, and four aged in their 90s.

Pictured is Hines Hill mother Jess Silver, whose daughter Lexie was the first baby transferred by the Newborn Emergency Transfer Service (NETS) using the Heli-Med service, flying from Merredin Oval to the rooftop heli-pad at PCH in just 45 minutes.