Dave Collins became a pilot with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) in Queensland almost 10 years ago. His career up until that point had seen him flying for charter companies and mustering cattle in the far north west of Queensland.
The opportunity to join the Flying Doctor was a chance to keep doing the job he loves (flying) while at the same time helping people in need. And what made it even more appealing was that Dave knew that no two days would ever be the same.
“I like that when you get to work you don't know where you will be going. It’s a bit of a lucky dip.”
A typical day for Dave, if there is such a thing, involves doing all the pre-flight checks on the aeroplane, checking the weather and making sure the plane is ready to go as soon as it’s needed.
Once a call comes in, Dave could be flying an RFDS doctor or nurse to pick up a patient from a motor vehicle accident or taking a specialist neonatal retrieval team to collect a sick newborn baby. Some days can be filled with multiple flights or long distances.
The RFDS in Queensland can be called out to jobs anywhere in the state and helps more than 240 people every day. On average, that’s a phenomenal one person every six minutes who need their assistance.
For Dave, the most important skill he has learnt in his time at the RFDS is teamwork.
“Not only are you the pilot, but you're also the refueler, loader and baggage handler. You’re the person holding up the umbrella to give the patient some shade while the medical crew are attending to them. You can work in some tough environments and you need to work together to make the task go smoother.”
Dave is passionate about his career and when asked what advice he has for people considering following in his footsteps, he stated:
“Follow your dreams. Be prepared to do the hard yards. Aviation can be tough at times; you have to take the good with the bad. Being a Pilot is a very rewarding job.”
Brisbane Airport have worked closely with the RFDS since they established their Brisbane headquarters here in 1995. The airport provides vital support in connecting patients from regional, rural and remote Queensland to specialist care. Since the formal partnership began in 2009, the RFDS has landed in Brisbane over 33,500 times, many of those under the trusty hands of Dave Collins.
Rachel Crowley, BAC’s Executive General Manager, Communications and Public Affairs, understands the critical importance of the RFDS.
“Pilots like Dave are in many ways guardian angels here on earth, providing vital health care and emergency services to people in rural and remote areas,” she says.
“It is extraordinary to think that in doing this, Dave and the dedicated team at RFDS fly the equivalent of 34 round trips to the moon every year. “
It’s lucky then, that Dave loves flying and hopes to stay with the RFDS to celebrate the organisation’s 100-year anniversary in 2028.
“I love working in the aviation industry and hope to keep flying as long as I can”