Flying doctors reaches new heights

Essendon Fields Airport based Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) Victoria has launched its new service ‘Flying Doctor Memory Lane’.

Memory Lane is Victoria’s first dedicated ambulance service enabling people in end of life care, to be transported to a place of personal significance at no cost.

“For people with a terminal illness or in palliative care, a simple chance to reconnect with their lives in their final days can mean the world,” says RFDS Victoria Chief Executive Scott Chapman.

“We know that in those final stages of life, most people’s wishes are very simple. They want to admire their own garden, feel the breeze of the seaside, or be surrounded by loved ones and pets. We want to make those wishes come true.”

Through its extensive fleet of more than 100 road ambulances, RFDS Victoria has been undertaking journeys such as these when possible; either as a simple detour on transport, or as a special request to help someone revisit a place of significance. Memory Lane will ensure there is a dedicated fleet of specially designed vehicles and a pool of trained volunteers to allow more people to experience these special moments.

“By nature, we celebrate birth – we celebrate milestones, and we celebrate achievements. We need to do more to celebrate lives – no matter when they may be coming to a close,” adds Mr Chapman.

“Each Memory Lane journey will be unique – because they are about the individual, their life and those who played such a part in it. What will be the same on each journey, however, is the respect and professionalism I know our team of staff and volunteers will show our clients and their families. It is a great gift to be able to facilitate these journeys – and something that we as an organisation are proud and honoured to do.”

This service is more than four years in the making. As a not-for-profit charity, the Flying Doctor relies on the generosity of donors and supporters to cover the cost of its operations; however starting a new service is another challenge altogether.

“It is important that we have special vehicles that don’t feel like a traditional ambulance,” explains Mr Chapman. “From the wooden look floor, to soft feel furnishings and a different livery, we want clients and their families to feel comfortable and forget that they are actually in a medically equipped vehicle.”

The Royal Flying Doctors also takes to our TV screens on Wednesday 11 August – similarly Essendon Airports centenary. For a glimpse into what life looks like for these airborne heroes, tune in to Channel 7 on Wednesday 11 August at 8.40pm.