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1 July, 2021

Extensive training for nurse

FROM aeromedical retrieval simulations to managing injured or ill patients, Bill Cater, a Royal Flying Doctor Service (Queensland Section) (RFDS) flight nurse based in Cairns, was put through his paces in the highly immersive Specialised Training in Aeromedical Retrieval (STAR) program on Brisbane’s Whyte Island earlier this month.


Stepping outside the classroom, STAR program participants face realistic and confronting simulations and are required to respond as they would in real life. 

Details of the simulation program were kept secret from all attendees.

RFDS flight nurses experience medical emergencies every day, but this training exposes them to a variety of scenarios which they may not have experienced before.

The two-day program was designed to improve the delivery of clinical care in aeromedical retrieval and provided training and education across all aspects of this challenging environment.

A highly sought-after course among RFDS flight nurses, Bill’s involvement in this year’s training was made possible through QSuper’s ongoing sponsorship with the RFDS (Queensland Section).

Nurse Cater said his family had a history with the RFDS, with his stepfather an RFDS medical officer and his mother, a bush nurse who regularly called upon the RFDS for remote support.

“I remember the RFDS plane landing on the dirt strips and sitting on the bonnets of their vehicles around the place,” he said.

“I started nursing about 25 years ago, always with the intention of getting into accident and emergency ICU, as well as retrieval.

“In the last 25 years, I have dabbled in different areas within retrieval, whether it’s been fixed wing, rotary wing or vehicle based.

“In the past five years I started working with the RFDS, but prior to that was doing retrieval, both with the Defence Force and some other companies as well.”

QSuper proudly became a Principal Partner with the RFDS (Queensland Section) in 2019 to support flight nurses in their bid to provide vital healthcare to regional and remote Queenslanders.

The ongoing commitment by the RFDS to serve the community requires training and upskilling, which comes at a cost.

QSuper’s sponsorship assists RFDS personnel with access to critical training which allows them to perform life-saving work every day. Since the partnership began, QSuper has enabled three RFDS flight nurses, including Bill, to experience the STAR training program.

Nurse Cater said he had always admired the ethos of the RFDS and how it has evolved.

“With Cairns being one of the traditional bases, which involves primary retrievals and is an area which particularly interests me, I was more than happy to apply for a job and get one of the positions, and have been with them ever since,” he said.

“I’ve been trying to get on the STAR course for a couple of years to hone my knowledge and be able to talk with people with far more experience than me.

“It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have, you can constantly keep learning from doing your job.”

The RFDS has supported Queenslanders with a broad range of essential healthcare services in rural and remote communities for more than 90 years.

Flight nurses and aeromedical crews dedicate their lives to the welfare of the communities in which they live and serve.

QSuper recognises that many of our members live rurally and remotely, and this partnership is another way we can support the health and medical needs of our community.


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