May 18, 2009

STRUTH with david ellis


IN his continuing search for the more weird, whacky and wonderous in the world of travel, DAVID ELLIS finds that between them, every fortnight the fifty aircraft of Australia's Royal Flying Doctor Service fly the equivalent of a return trip to the Moon. 

And on an average day, their onboard medical crews treat 717 patients, hold 39 clinics and evacuates 99 emergency patients.

All this of course doesn't come cheap: it costs $180m a year to run the service, the money coming from Federal, State and Territory governments, commercial contracts, private donations, philanthropic grants, private trusts, events and fundraising. 

If you'd like to help towards this with a donation, or get  more information, contact Deb Hunt, RFDS (02) 9941 8888 or or visit 

WING-NOTE: AN early flying doctor at Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory always carried a bag of old bolts with him, and when returning from the Outback with a patient would fly directly over the local mission station hospital... the number of bolts he dropped on the hospital roof would let the duty matron know whether the incoming patient needed a car or an ambulance to get to the hospital from the airstrip, and the kind of attention - from minor to major - they were going to require. 

The mission station is still there, complete with the thousands of dings in its corrugated iron roof.

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