The Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) has reinforced its commitment to patient safety, becoming the first dedicated aeromedical provider in the Asia-Pacific region to receive the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO) Stage 3 accreditation.
Stage 3 of the rigorous endorsement confirms that the RFDS demonstrates the highest aviation safety standards. It reinforces that these same standards are fully adopted and reflected within in the culture of the organisation.
The accreditation was issued by the International Business Aviation Council (IBAC), Montreal and is only awarded to an operator following attainment of previous stages which involves independent audits every two years that examine all areas of aviation operations.
RFDS (Queensland Section) Head of Flying Operations Shane Lawrey said safety was key to the Flying Doctor’s operations and having its positive safety culture recognised by IBAC, was a huge achievement for the Service.
“Only two other aviation organisations in Australia have achieved Stage 3 and both are corporate jet operators. In contrast, the RFDS is a complex, high-volume, high-risk operation spanning both healthcare and aviation,” Mr Lawrey said.
“Our safety management systems have been proven to compliment and integrate both operations, so to be formally recognised in this manner reinforces our commitment to the well-being of our staff and patients.”
In 2017, the RFDS (Queensland Section) became the first dedicated aeromedical provider to achieve IS-BAO Stage 1 accreditation in Australia, before again becoming the first to upgrade to Stage 2 accreditation in 2019.
RFDS (Queensland Section) CEO Meredith Staib said she was incredibly proud of the organisation’s ongoing pursuit of improved safety standards.
“The International Standard for Business Aircraft Operation is the benchmark of safety and professionalism accreditation for aviation providers such as the RFDS,” Ms Staib said.
“This achievement is the culmination of six years of hard work by our pilots, engineers and aviation support staff, who helped us attain IS-BAO Stages 1 and 2 consecutively.
“To then achieve Stage 3 is testament to our staff’s dedication to the safety of their colleagues and the people of Queensland, who we have proudly served for the past 92 years.”
Lead Auditor, Dane Williams, who was part of the team conducting the in-depth accreditation assessment said he was equally impressed with the RFDS commitment to safety.
‘It was refreshing and an absolute pleasure to work with the RFDS organisation during their rigorous assessment against the 15 Chapters of IS-BAO Stage 3 Standards,” Mr Williams said.
“The organisation’s approach to adopting industry best practice, training, investment in equipment and an open and honest reporting culture confirms their culture is all about identifying hazards before they happen.
“During our three day audit our team witnessed how they then openly share and report such threats, conduct thorough risk assessments and mitigate the identified hazards. This ensures the highest level of safety for their patients during aeromedical operations.”
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As the globally recognised voluntary safety standard, IS-BAO helps operators apply industry best practices by challenging then to review and compare their safety-related policies, processes and procedures, and then make improvements, elevating then to the worldwide standard for business aviation.
Similar to an ISO-9000 standard of practice, IS-BAO is specifically formulated for business aviation and accepted worldwide as the benchmark for safety and efficiency in business aircraft operations. Hundreds of operators on all continents around the world have adopted IS-BAO as the definitive standard for flight operations.
About the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia (RFDS)
The RFDS has been saving lives in regional, rural and remote Australia for more than 92 years.
In addition to the 24/7 aeromedical retrieval of the critically-ill or injured, the RFDS also delivers a broad range of essential primary and preventative healthcare services, including telehealth, mental health, oral health and chronic disease management.
Established in Queensland in 1928 by the Reverend John Flynn, the RFDS has grown to become the world’s largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisation, comprising a fleet of 75 aircraft, 24 aeromedical bases and six remote primary health care facilities.
Today the RFDS delivers more than 370,000 episodes of patient care across Australia every year – equivalent to assisting someone every two minutes.
Services are delivered on a day-to-day basis by six RFDS operating sections – Central Operations (serving SA/NT), Queensland Section, South Eastern Section (serving NSW/ACT), Tasmania Section, Victoria Section and Western Operations (serving WA).
The RFDS is a not-for-profit organisation. While supported by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments, the RFDS depends on bequests, fundraising and donations to bridge the gap in operational funding and to finance its capital-raising program for the replacement of aircraft, medical equipment and other major capital initiatives.
The RFDS has been voted nine times Australia’s Most Reputable Charity by the Reputation Institute Charity Reputation Index.
A study, released in 2020, revealed that the RFDS provides more than $2.5 billion in benefits to the Australian economy each year through its life-saving aeromedical services. The study was conducted by advisory firm BDO Services and independently endorsed by the Australian Centre for Health Services Innovation.
In Queensland, the RFDS supports 1,056 FTE jobs (including 290 direct jobs) and boosts economic activity by $490 million each year, including a direct injection of $132.5 million into the Queensland economy.
The RFDS provides healthcare services over an area of 1.73 million square kilometres in Queensland from nine strategically located bases in Cairns, Townsville, Mount Isa, Charleville, Longreach, Roma, Rockhampton, Bundaberg and Brisbane. These services are delivered via a fleet of 20 medically equipped aeromedical aircraft.
And with some of the world’s most highly trained and skilled aviation and medical staff, including 99 nurses, 73 pilots, and 61 doctors, the RFDS in Queensland is incredibly well positioned to uphold our promise to deliver the finest care to the furthest corner of the state.
In Queensland, we provide on average 240 occasions of care each day, including flying 30 patients per day to specialist care. Since 1995, we have proudly partnered with Queensland Health to transport more than 230,000 patients through the inter-hospital transfer service.