RFDS nurses and PHI pilots ready for take off

Graphic: RFDS nurses and PHI pilots ready for take off

RFDS partners with INPEX for vaccines by helicopter

Date published

24 Dec 2021

A new partnership has begun between the Royal Flying Doctor Service (WA) and INPEX to ensure critical COVID-19 vaccinations can continue during the wet season in remote Kimberley communities.

RFDS nurses Amy and Claire in helicopter

For the first time, RFDS WA immunisation nurses and COVID-19 vaccines flew by helicopter rather than the fixed-wing aircraft from Broome to the remote Kimberley communities of Bidyadanga, Beagle Bay and Lombadina.

INPEX will support a series of helicopter flights over the coming months to help the vaccination program continue during the wet season when landing fixed-wing aircraft can be challenging at some locations.

The RFDS WA immunisation team transports Pfizer vaccines in ultra-cold freezers that are powered by the aircraft and then plugged into portable battery packs to maintain a consistent -70 degrees celsius while on the ground. Significant planning to manage the logistics of the missions has taken place through a collaboration between the RFDS, INPEX and PHI International.

Amy and Claire at Bidayadanga clinic

RFDS WA Chief Executive Rebecca Tomkinson said INPEX’s support would help the service be even more agile in administering much-needed vaccines to remote communities.

“Every day counts in our push to provide as many remote residents as possible with the opportunity to be vaccinated,” said Ms Tomkinson.

“But, we can’t achieve this alone. We are proud to work in partnership with INPEX, the WA Country Health Service, the Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Service and other local service providers to deliver the best service we can for Kimberley communities.”

Vaccine freezer

“INPEX is proud to support the important work being undertaken by RFDS in the Kimberley to enable remote communities to receive COVID-19 vaccines which are essential to protecting the communities in which we live and operate,” said Bill Townsend, Vice President Corporate.

To date, the RFDS has administered nearly 10,000 vaccines across the Kimberley, Pilbara, Goldfields and Midwest regions of WA since May this year.

RFDS Amy and Claire with PHI pilots Ken and Jared