Ahrens partner with RFDS to help save rural lives

Ahrens were engaged to design and construct the landmark facility for the RFDS, awarded head contractor through their long and successful history of completing work for the client nation-wide.

The first of its kind in regional South Australia, the scope of works included a new dual ambulance parking building, patient transfer rooms built inside the client’s existing hangar and removal of existing bitumen floor for the installation of a new concrete floor.

The new facility features a stabilisation bay for retrieval teams to manage deteriorating patients prior to flight; a climate controlled environment and weather protection for the transfer of patients between SA Ambulance and RFDS crews; a spacious floorplan to accommodate multiple patients and crews at once; an aircraft hangar to provide an undercover area with lighting for engineers to perform unscheduled aircraft maintenance; as well as secure parking to protect ambulances stationed at the facility.

RFDS crews land at least once a day at Mount Gambier Airport for the transport of patients to one of Adelaide’s major hospitals to receive life-saving care or specialist medical treatment. Previously, patients were transferred in a RFDS aircraft standing on the tarmac, exposed to the elements and in all extremes of seasonal weather.

Overcoming challenges such as working in a remote location at an operating airport, as well as using new trades, Ahrens resolved these to provide a facility that increased customer care and comfort levels for RFDS patients and crews awaiting transfer, as well as increasing ambulance efficiency.

Enhancing patient care and operational response times for critical patients, the converted hangar provides a fully-equipped undercover facility for RFDS and SAAS MedSTAR crews to stabilise patients prior to flight.

The facility was also recognised with an Innovation Award in the 2020 SA Health Supplier Awards. Chief Executive of RFDS Central Operations Tony Vaughan, expresses what the new hangar means for the life-saving organisation.

“The RFDS Mount Gambier Patient Transfer Facility will set a new standard of care provided by the RFDS and its service-delivery partners at regional aerodromes across South Australia,” Mr Vaughan said.

“The RFDS is focused on driving continual improvement in our care for every patient and at every touchpoint, and we’re delighted the community has come on board and supported this landmark project every step of the way.”