WA Flying Doctor's first remote vaccination operation a success

Date published

28 May 2021

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) of Western Australia is proud to have completed its first remote COVID-19 vaccination operation in the Goldfields-Esperance region after being contracted by the Australian Government to deliver the service.

Rawlinna Station

 RFDS crew departed from the Kalgoorlie base on the morning of Wednesday 19 May to undertake the mission, travelling 1610km in total over two days to deliver the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine to residents living in some of the most remote locations across the region.

This includes Rawlinna Station - Australia’s largest sheep station which encompasses part of the Nullarbor Plain, Eucla – the easternmost locality in WA, and Forrest Airport located 88km west of the WA-SA border adjoining the Trans Australia Railway.

After landing at the Rawlinna Station airstrip, RFDS crew Dr Roy Morris, Primary Health Care nurse Sue Cassidy, Flight Nurse Daniel Moore and Pilot Lance Witton worked as a team to set up the clinic and deliver the vaccines out of the RFDS’ PC-12 aircraft.

A remote health clinic like no other, residents from the local homestead, depot and surrounds arrived by light aircraft and 4WDs to attend the clinic, with 10 Pfizer vaccines administered.

The second pit-stop was the remote town of Eucla which sits 11km west of the South Australia border. 

Coordinated with vital support from a local Silver Chain nurse, 36 vaccines were administered to patients including border force, quarantine officers and hospitality workers at the Eucla and Border Village motel and roadhouse.

After a successful day, RFDS crew then stayed overnight in Eucla with a single vaccine vial remaining, delivering two doses at Forrest Airport before refueling and heading home to Kalgoorlie the following morning. 

The RFDS in Western Australia is expected to roll-out vaccinations across the remote Pilbara and Kimberley region in the next four to six weeks.

Scott and Liana

Scott Lotona and his partner Liana Colley moved to manage the Border Village Roadhouse seven months ago. 

Scott says the RFDS’ monthly clinics held at the Eucla health clinic are a lifeline to many of the local residents and their workers. 

“It’s only a matter of time before they lift the border restrictions and will only allow people who are vaccinated to travel through,” he said. 

“I was hesitant at first but thought given how much we interact with tourists and travellers, it’s best to stay safe and to move forward.”

Amanda Ellison

Amanda Ellison works at the Eucla motel roadhouse and at the checkpoint quarantining travellers passing through into WA from South Australia. 

After working with ANZ for 11 years, she said she was after a sea change and has lived in Eucla for five years. 

She often sees the RFDS come through for the monthly clinic but also when responding to medical emergencies in the surrounding areas – most typically for heart attack and motor vehicle accidents. 

“I came today to get my COVID-19 vaccine because one of my sisters is actually pregnant and working as a quarantine officer puts me at increased risk,” she said. 

When asked how the vaccination went, she said: “Easy! I just filled out a form, showed my Medicare card, filled out and signed the consent form, Dr Roy gave me a jab and all done!”

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