Veteran medico still in the sky

RFDS head of medical services Stephen Langford.
RFDS head of medical services Stephen Langford.

‘Sometimes a supermarket would page me over the loud speaker,’ Dr Langford said.

‘I trained to be a rural GP but decided to join the Royal Flying Doctor Service in 1983 for a year because I had a pilot’s licence and was interested in aviation.’

Thirty years on, Dr Langford is still with the organisation as the medical director and has witnessed many changes and advances, including the introduction of a clot-dissolving drug to treat heart attack patients in even the most remote areas.

He said that before its introduction in the early 1990s, the heart muscle of heart attack patients would be dying from a lack of blood during a five- or six-hour flight.

‘But there was a worldwide study (with the drug) and we were quick to adopt it,’ Dr Langford said. ‘We gave patients the drug in the plane’