Royal Flying Doctor Service rescues Collie man

Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jet aircraft. Image: Royal Flying Doctor Service

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) retrieved 215 patients directly from mine sites across Western Australia in the 2018-19 financial year, including a heart attack sufferer working at a remote mine site.

The man was a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) mobile plant operator at the Woodie Woodie manganese mine in the East Pilbara.

He suffered severe chest pain, shoulder pain and shortness of breath after a night shift.

This led to the mine site’s medic team being alerted and engaging the supervision of an RFDS medical officer for emergency medical assessment and treatment.

RFDS retrieved the man aero medically from the Woodie Woodie mine and took him 1600 kilometres south to Perth, where specialist cardiac care was available.

“We had a time-critical patient scenario where minutes mattered,” RFDS head of medical Andrew Hooper said.

“We were able to respond rapidly and in-flight, we were able to continue (the patient’s) emergency treatment, monitor his vital signs and ensure plans were in order to get him to Royal Perth Hospital for the procedure he needed.”

The patient was flown in the Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jet, which was diverted to respond to the medical emergency thanks to its ability to travel at speeds of more than 700 kilometres an hour.

“… to see him walking through our doors five days later doing well is just amazing,” Hooper said.

The RFDS is a non-profit organisation that receives government, corporate and community support to stay sustainable.