The provision of the Top End Medical Retrieval Service by CareFlight (NSW), part of the CareFlight Group Ltd, was officially launched at Darwin International Airport on 31 January. During the launch ceremony, Northern Territory Health Minister David Tollner named one of CareFlight’s Super King Air B200 twin-engine turbo-prop aircraft in a tribute to the founder of Territory aeromedical services, Dr Clyde Fenton – ‘Clyde Fenton’ is the name of the first of CareFlight’s Pro Line 21 Super King Air B200 turbo-prop aircraft, registered VH –ZCN.
For six years from 1934, Dr Clyde Fenton mixed his love of flying with his medicine. In a statement, CareFlight said: “This tall, lean and bespectacled man became a Territory legend. Missions and pastoral properties loved his kindness and determination … while his rescues, escapades and pranks regularly brought him into conflict with authorities. With official support (not that those local authorities at the time could have stopped him) Clyde Fenton used a Gipsy Moth bi-plane to form what became the Northern Territory Aerial Medical Service. To the Civil Aviation Department, Dr Fenton was a disaster, but to people of the Top End he was a hero. Crashes and daredevil flights were his speciality as he used primitive bush strips to collect patients and fly them to Katherine for treatment.”
Under the 10-year Northern Territory contract, from January 2013, CareFlight provides five King Airs and a helicopter for dedicated medical or search and rescue missions. Separately a Learjet 35 plane is also based in Darwin to fly patients between states or from overseas for CareFlight International Air Ambulance.
Under an interim and transition arrangement, which started in July 2010, CareFlight flew more than 10,000 children and adults from regional, remote and very remote locations to hospitals from aircraft bases in Darwin, Katherine and Nhulunbuy. With the start of the new contract, CareFlight has replaced its interim King Air aircraft with near-new Super King B200 aircraft that have modern avionics technology and been extensively modified for this aeromedical role with features including: a full ‘glass’ Pro Line 21 cockpit instrumentation layout similar to that found in airline aircraft; improved short field performance by the fitment of Raisbeck propellers and low pressure main wheels to allow rough field performance; an infra-red imaging system (IRIS) that allows wildlife and livestock to be seen on runways at night; engine trend monitoring for continuous recording of engine condition; wing lockers for additional storage of equipment outside of the cabin; additional radios and a satellite phone communication system; an internal communication systems (intercom) that allows any member of the crew to communicate with other crew members or to use any radio or phone from their crew position to contact staff on the ground to request assistance or to provide advice; and a real-time tracking and aircraft position system that allows co-ordination staff to know exactly where the aircraft are at any time. Meanwhile, a newly designed aeromedical fit includes: A state-of-the-art stretcher loading device for ease of patient loading on up to two Spectrum stretchers and a separate medical battery system to ensure the integrity of medical equipment.
In addition to both fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft, under the contract with the NT Government, CareFlight also provides the flight doctors and flight nurses, supervising specialist doctors, medical governance, clinical and logistics co-ordination, aircraft engineering and administration. Furthermore, CareFlight provides and is directly responsible for all components of the operationplus the rotary and fixed-wing aircraft. Additionally, for the first time in the Territory, the new Clinical & Logistics Coordination System that tasks the King Air aircraft allows the integration of CareFlight’s BK-117B2 medical-rescue helicopter into the total Top End aeromedical system.