The RFDS in WA

Organising a Flight

If you wish to arrange for your patient to be transferred, the most efficient process is outlined below.

  1. Assemble patient information
  2. Call 1800 625 800
  3. Refer your patient to us
  4. Discuss the case personally
  5. Ensure ongoing clinical care
  6. Notify us of any changes

1. Assemble Patient Information

Collate all relevant demographic and clinical information about your patient. The book of Flight Registration forms provided to every hospital, lays out the information we are going to ask for to assist in prioritising your patient and arranging for treatment during transfer. (If it is not an inter-hospital transfer, just collate whatever facts you can about the patient and their observations).

2. Call 1800 625 800

Call us on the free number 1800 625 800, to refer your patient for transport. The call will be answered by one of our state-wide Coordination Centre staff, who will ask some core details, then pass your call on to one of our retrieval doctors. The RFDS doctor will be at the facility which would normally undertake the flight but when we are busy it may be an adjacent RFDS facility doctor.

3. Refer Your Patient to us

Discuss your patient directly with one of our medical staff. Please be patient. We endeavour to obtain all the information we need in a single call including history, examination findings and vital signs, provisional diagnosis and drugs and treatment commenced. We will discuss with you any additional resuscitation measures, preparation for transport and liaise on an approximate time frame for transfer. Whilst we are unable to give a firm arrival time at this point, we should be able to provide an estimate of when your patient will be transferred.

Whilst helpful, it is not essential that you have a bed arranged at this time, especially for urgent patients. We would rather have your patient referred to us early, so that we could make plans for transfer, than hear about them later in the day when all our crews are committed to other tasks. If you have an urgent or seriously ill patient, we can arrange a destination bed for you whilst you are resuscitating and managing the patient and provide a "door to door" service. Our goal is to help you as much as possible.

4. Discuss the Case Personally

We do not like to accept third-party referrals from nursing staff or other doctors who are not involved in treatment of the patient. We need to obtain clear, accurate clinical details about their current condition. Sometimes, in conjunction with you, we may need to make decisions about delays or alternate methods of transport. There are potential medico-legal ramifications if we are not dealing with the treating doctor. Our retrieval doctors can be making judgements about flights which may take them and their crew away from their base for many hours and even up to 2 days. We want to make that decision on the best information available.

Call us if there is a significant change in your patient's condition. We may be able to upgrade the priority or cancel the flight if they improve or can be transported by other means. Likewise we will call you if there is to be a significant delay with the transfer of your patient, so that we discuss options for alternate treatment or transport.

5. Ensure Ongoing Clinical Care

Ensure there is adequate ongoing care until your patient is physically handed over to us.

If the patient is seriously ill, you may need to remain with them until our retrieval team arrives at your hospital, or escort them yourself to the airport for handover. We aim to achieve a high quality of continuing care and clinical handover.

If your patient is relatively stable or routine, you can expect that we will liaise with hospital nursing staff on arrangements to have the patient brought to the airport, with appropriate documentation and escorts, to meet our ETA.

6. Notify us of any changes

Change in clinical coordination.

If there is a change in your patient's condition, please call 1800-625-800 and ask to speak to a doctor (not the non-clinical operations centre staff).

Changes to treatment or interventions

If you commence some special treatments, drugs or other procedures, please let us know in case it influences what we bring or how we undertake the flight.

Change to destination

If the destination hospital changes, please let us know so there is no confusion at the destination end when we organise a road ambulance to the hospital.


If you decide not to transfer the patient or to send them by other means, please let us know promptly, so that we do not spend time planning or undertaking the flight.


We do not normally carry relatives except one relative or guardian for a child. Requests for a relative to travel depend on load factors such as the number and weight of patients and crew on the aircraft and must be made in advance.

Ongoing clinical advice

If you need ongoing advice about your patient, you can call and be put through to one of our doctors, or even the doctor on the aircraft heading to you.


If there are any compliments or complaints we are keen to hear from you so that we can continue to improve our services. The Medical Director or deputy can be contacted 24 hours a day by phone through
the 1800 number. Or you can send a confidential fax to 9417 6319 or email

See what happens next: Behind the Scenes.