Under the radar or beyond the horizon? Aeromedical retrieval in Central Australia

David Carpenter1

1 David Carpenter BNurs, GradDip Nurs (Emerg), GradDip Mid.

Royal Flying Doctor Service (Central Operations), PO Box 2210  Alice Springs NT 0871 david.carpenter@flyingdoctor.net

The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDS) is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world. Staff at the Alice Springs base provide emergency medical evacuations for people who live, work and travel in remote Central Australia, many of whom have a heavy chronic disease burden.  The vast distances, climatic extremes, cultural diversity and wide spectrum of clinical presentations combine to provide a unique practice setting with a birds-eye view.

This presentation outlines the influence that each of these factors has on aeromedical operations in the region, before exploring the development of innovative solutions that support the provision of safe and efficient aeromedical transport across a region the size of Western Europe. These include partnerships with the Alice Springs Hospital Retrieval Service and Central Australian Remote Health, along with a unique 7-tier priority coding system for tasks. The presentation will also incorporate the use of interactive technology to poll the audience for their answers to scenario-based questions in real time.


David Carpenter is Tasmanian born and bred, and worked as an Emergency Nurse in Launceston for a number of years. After a short period as a locum Remote Area Nurse in 2008, David qualified as a Midwife and swapped temperate island life for the vast deserts of Central Australia. He has worked as an Alice Springs-based Flight Nurse/Midwife with the RFDS since 2011.