• A Royal Flying Doctors Service aircraft. (Supplied: Royal Flying Doctors Service.)Source: Supplied: Royal Flying Doctors Service.
The Royal Flying Doctors Service is assuring remote communities it will continue to provide 24/7 medical assistance, even through the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is taking extra precautions to avoid spreading the virus.
Keira Jenkins

1 Apr 2020 - 5:06 PM  UPDATED 1 Sep 2020 - 1:32 PM

The Royal Flying Doctors Service wants remote communities to know it is still available for 24/7 emergency medical care during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The Royal Flying Doctors Service federation executive director Frank Quinlan told NITV that while it's understandable to be worried in the situation that the Coronavirus is presenting, communities do not have to worry that the Royal Flying Doctors Service won't help them.

"The Royal Flying doctors are going to be there for those communities," said Mr Quinlan. "We always have been. All of our planning is about ensuring that we're going to be able to continue to deliver services into those communities."

"We're planning to do that even if some of our staff at the frontline become ill. We're taking every protection to ensure that they don't, but we're making a plan so that there are backup teams. All of our planning is focused on ensuring that we can deliver the best possible care to those communities."

Mr Quinlan said it is also up to communities to make sure they're taking precautions to make sure they are protecting themselves, and their families, from the virus.

"To the extent they're able, they should follow the measures that are being promoted around physical distancing," said Mr Quinlan. "Around extra and additional hygiene handwashing, it's about taking extra and additional care around people who might be older or sick."

"These are things that communities can be doing now to help control their own destiny, to the extent that communities are able, if they can be promoting those measures actively ensuring handwashing ensuring social distancing, where it's possible.

"They are all things that are going to help communities in the long run. So I'd like to think in that sense, even if we're not physically placed together, we're still working together to minimise this potential crisis."

'We're ready'

Mr Quinlan said the Royal Flying Doctors Service is also taking measures to make sure no one in the service spreads COVID-19 into a remote community.

"We don't want to be vectors of transmission into remote communities," said Mr Quinlan. "We want to be respectful of the shutdowns and the special procedures that have taken place in many communities in order to provide protection to those communities."

"But we also want to make sure that we are ready to go when those communities need additional support and continue the medical evacuations that people would expect because people are still going to have other conditions and they're still going to have other health crises.

"But also obviously we're making plans to ensure that we can respond to the covert crisis as efficiently and as effectively as quickly as we possibly can."

Mr Quinlan said although the Coronavirus may require extra precautions and resources, it's nothing the Royal Flying Doctor Service can't handle.

"It seems trite to say it, but the Flying Doctors is actually in the business of transporting sick patients and patients with infectious diseases," he said. "Some of this is not new to us."

"We have many experiences many existing procedures that allow us to prepare appropriately for this now, but obviously, like the rest of the country, we're making plans so that if the social distancing measures breakdown in any area and we do see outbreaks of infection - we're ready to respond to demand that might be greater than usual."

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