National Geographic : 1966 Feb
and far from accepted, tough John Flynn used both and urged his reluctant country men to spread them over the whole of the outback. There is no telling how many lives have been saved since the R.F.D.S. was begun in neighboring Queensland in 1928.* Every day physicians at 13 centers such as Alice Springs hold radio "clinics," giv ing instructions for treatment to isolated stations and camps-each equipped with standardized medicine chests containing more than 80 items. In emergencies a nurse or doctor flies to the patient (page 243). I walked from the Elkira Court motel in the sunshine of Bath Street toward R.F.D.S. headquarters. Aboriginal chil dren played with hoses that revived lawns with water from the town's deep wells. A four-wheel-drive vehicle, red with the sand of the desert, drove by, its canvas water bag slung on the front bumper. Big diesel trucks were loading from freight cars in the railroad yard-building materials, drums of oil, live sheep. Help Never More Than Hours Away At R.F.D.S. headquarters-a pleasant bungalow in the shade of Billygoat Hill I met Base Director George Brown, ex radio officer in the British Merchant Navy. "People come to Alice on a visit, like it, and stay. That's what I did," he told me. "Before this service operated, the patient had either to be brought to the doctor, or else the doctor, alerted by a messenger, traveled overland to the patient. At times distances of hundreds of miles were in volved, and local pioneer residents can re call journeys of 14 days over rough bush tracks, by horse-drawn buggy, to reach the nearest busy hospital. Nowadays we can bring skilled medical help to any outpost on the network within three hours." We thumbed through a file of flight *For more on the flying doctors see "Australia," by Alan Villiers, GEOGRAPHIC, September, 1963. Fingers of gold fleetingly probe Stand ley Chasm, a day-long round trip from Alice Springs. Only at noon does the sun dip into the shadowy cleft whose walls, 20 to 30 feet apart, tower 23 stories. Answering the challenge of Ayers Rock, sightseers attack the west ridge, a safety line their sole aid on the steep as cent. "I climbed Ayers Rock" badges re ward the hardy ones who reach the top. EKTACHROME(OPPOSITE) BY DAVID MOORE; 238 KODACHROMEBY JEFF CARTER © N.G.S .