International flight nurse – destination Riyadh KSA – an enchanted story of Arabian Nights and what lies beyond

Miss Michele Hardesty-Munday1

1Dept Of Health  Western Australia, Rottnest Island Nursing Post, Australia

Whilst working in Darwin I came across an advertisement in the Nursing Times for an International Flight Nurse based in Riyadh for the Royal Saudi Air Force and thought it sounded like an exciting and new challenge.

I arrived in Riyadh with no knowledge of the Arabic language and very limited experience in their culture. My position as an International Flight Nurse which was based at the Riyadh military airbase was to retrieve ill or injured members of the Saudi military which included their wives and children. The patient transfers were from regional and remote areas to a main hospital.

This position also included transferring Saudi military personnel to the USA, Europe or other countries within the Middle East for specialist medical treatment.

It was not uncommon to have neonates and adults with cardiac and multi trauma conditions on board a single flight.

My professional skills were challenged not only to communicate but also to deal with critically ill patients on life support and of various ages.

In contrast my job also included transferring members of the Royal Saudi Arabian family to various events in Europe and the Middle East.

I drew heavily on my experience from working in remote areas in particular the RFDS to adapt to my KSA flight position. I found my work in the Middle East a tremendous and life changing experience.


Michèle trained as a registered nurse in the Channel Islands and as a midwife at St Thomas’ and Guys Hospitals in London. She later trained as a paediatric and adult emergency nurse at the Royal Children’s and Austin hospitals in Melbourne.

Her extensive remote area and tertiary emergency nursing experience includes the RFDS (NSW), Northern Territory and Lizard Island in Queensland.

In the mid-1990s Michèle decided to travel to Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) to work as an International Flight Nurse for the Royal Saudi Arabian Air Force.

Her international emergency work experience also includes Oman and a further assignment in the KSA as an emergency/flight nurse at Saudi Aramco based in Dhahran.

On returning to Australia Michèle studied law and now works as a state-wide Disability Discrimination Solicitor in Perth and as an emergency nurse on Rottnest Island.