Fortescue and RFDS announce helicopter service

Image: Fortescue Metals Group

Fortescue Metals Group and the Royal Flying Doctor Service of WA (RFDS) have announced a new aeromedical helicopter service partnership that will improve emergency response to mine sites in Western Australia (WA). 

Ideal for hospital-to-hospital transfers, the Fortescue Heli-Med Service will provide RFDS frontline crews with greater capacity to respond quickly to patients’ needs with the most appropriate aircraft. 

“At Fortescue, we live by our culture and values and nothing is more important than the health and safety of our team members, their families and the communities in which we operate,” Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said. 

“As a proud West Australian business, we want to ensure that regional and remote communities across our state have access to vital services such as those provided by the Royal Flying Doctor Service in WA.” 

Fortescue has a strong safety culture, and it works with industry and regulatory leaders to maintain the highest standards of education, coaching, training, monitoring and reporting, and the Fortescue Heli-Med Service extends that safety culture to further protect the safety of its workers and their communities. 

The service will operate in regional communities including Bunbury, Jurien Bay, Northam, Narrogin and Margaret River, as well as destinations as close to Perth as Rottnest Island and the Peel region. 

In an Australian first for the RFDS, the five-year partnership will integrate two EC-145 helicopters into the WA fleet. 

The EC-145 helicopters have an operational range of 500 kilometres and a cruising speed of 220 kilometres per hour. 

“The helicopters will work alongside the existing fleet of 20 fixed-wing aircraft to ensure the RFDS can continue to provide the best possible care for patients living, working and travelling in rural and remote communities,” RFDS WA chief executive officer Rebecca Tomkinson said.   

“It is my absolute privilege to be part of the Royal Flying Doctor Service in WA as we take this new and exciting step forward and I would like to sincerely thank Fortescue for their support, without which this new service wouldn’t be possible.” 

A team of RFDS doctors and nurses are currently undergoing training to care for patients being transferred by helicopter before the helicopters officially go into service in early 2022.

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