Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Flying Doctors

The flying doctors is an Australian drama series based on the everyday interventions of the RFDS, which stands for Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. This service provides health care and emergency assistance to the people living in the Outback (understand the remote areas of Australia).It was created in 1928 by Reverend John Flynn , an Australian priest who deplored the lack of medical help for the sick and injured of the Outback.
Although he was tipped off by a soldier (who unfortunately did not witness the institution grown out of his original idea, as he was KIA in France in 1918), it was him who developed the necessary means for the project to take form. Indeed, he combined medicine with two budding technologies, namely the radio (replacing the then most common way of communicating: the telegraph) and the aircraft. This resulted in the first air ambulance service in the world. According to recent statistics, the RFDS helps on average 600 patients each day, its 50 aircraft covering 45.000 km per day. And all of that for free, since it is a not-for-profit organization. That is why the first few decades were tough, financially speaking, and the service relied heavily on volunteer support and donations. The government also gave Flynn’s people a helping hand from time to time, but not until the 1960’s did it become an established practice. Not surprisingly, it is around that time that the RFDS began to purchase its own equipment and to employ its own pilots and engineers, eventually becoming this much respected Australian icon (which, as the smart ones among us will have noticed, celebrated its 80th anniversary this year).
Anyway, to return to our muttons, it is the series we are talking about. The flying doctors is actually the informal name given to the members of the RFDS, and as has been said above, it basically revolves around the everyday missions of the Australian medical service, only much more romanticised (after all, love stories between doctors do not exclusively happen in House MD ). The programme ran from 1986 to 1993, with an effort to revive the declining ratings in that last year, in vain. However, it was quite successful during those seven years, its 221 episodes having been broadcast in over 50 countries. And more importantly, it also helped popularising the real RFDS, which resulted in an upsurge in donations to this worthy organisation.
Sybille & Pitchou

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