Saving lives for 90 years

What started out as an ‘experiment’ 90 years ago has grown to become the largest aeromedical organisation in the world comprising a national emergency network performing over 100 aeromedical evacuations across the country every day.

In 2018 the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) is celebrating 90 years of saving lives in the Australian outback and, more recently, delivering the finest care to injured and critically-ill patients living in regional and metropolitan centres.

“In our first year of operation with an aircraft leased from Qantas, the Reverend John Flynn’s ‘Flying Doctor’ scheme provided medical assistance to 255 patients,” said Charlie Paterson, General Manager Marketing and PR, RFDS Central Operations.

“Today, with a fleet of 69 aircraft and network of 24 aeromedical bases across the country, RFDS crews airlift over 100 patients throughout Australia every day,” Mr Paterson said.

“Locally, RFDS crews land in South Australia 15 times a day – at least once a day in Whyalla – to evacuate a patient from one of the region’s country hospitals to one of Adelaide’s major hospitals for life-saving surgery or specialist medical treatment.”

Latest figures reveal RFDS crews landed in Whyalla over 484 times in 2017.

“The RFDS is still needed 24/7 for members of the community in their time of need, but it cannot continue to save lives without the on-going support of the community to keep its crews in the sky,” Mr Paterson says.

“The RFDS relies on bequests and donations to meet the shortfall in its operational funding and to finance the replacement of its ‘flying intensive care units’ – at a cost of $7 million each,” he says.

“In 2018 we celebrate a major milestone, and we are calling on the community to keep getting behind the ‘Flying Doctor’ by making a donation or by supporting local fundraising events and activities of our dedicated volunteer RFDS Support Groups and community fundraisers.”

  • Donations call 1800 813 318 or visit