Fancy Being An Angel?
I had the absolute pleasure this week of speaking to Marjorie Pagani. Marjorie is the CEO of an organisation called Angel Flight that coordinates non-emergency flights to help country people trying to deal with the triple trouble of bad health, poor finances and daunting distances.
Angel Flight started in 2003 when Businessman and Pilot Bill Bristow and some of his pilot buddies heard about regional medical clinics closing down. It concerned Bill that our rural neighbours would have to travel long distances to get to medical appointments.
Angel Flight started with 88 pilots and no passengers, operating out of an old hangar at Mascot. As word got out the service took-off (pun intended) and Angel Flight now has 4000 pilots, all with their own aircraft.
Angel Flight also utilizes 4200 Earth Angels to provide the ground transport, driving the patients from the airport to various medical appointments in the capital cities. Usually the patients can get home again in the same day.
Angel Flight has transported 60,000 patients, carers and family members on more than 20,000 flights since 2003.
Unlike many charities, Angel Flight does not receive any government funding, nor do they ask for it. They don’t use promotions, advertising or cold calling and have no assets. They operate out of a small rented office in Fortitude Valley in Brisbane with a small team of flight Co-Ordinators.
Funds are raised by regional folk via groups such as Lions Club, Probus, CWA and Rotary. The NSW city of Orange is holding an Angel Flight day soon and a Ladies Craft Group in Nyngan recently raised $12,000
We asked Marjorie to share any inspiring stories with us and she came up with a beautiful story about a young lady, Kayla from Chinchilla in QLD. Kayla was in desperate need of a kidney transplant and was on a waiting list for 8 years. She required dialysis in Brisbane three times a week and made 500 flights. Kayla was an ambassador for Angel Flight, often giving up her time to speak at events and schools, spreading the word about Angel Flight.
When Kayla finally received a new kidney, her body rejected it and tragically she passed away at the age of 22. Kayla’s memory continues to inspire the team at Angel Flight, including all the pilots who transported her who she knew on a first name basis.
To activate the services of Angel Flight all that’s required is a referral from health provider who can register on the Angel Flight website then it’s easy to send in a flight request for someone they deem to be in need.
Volunteer pilot’s flight credentials exceed the requirements of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) and all aircraft meet specified CASA and insurance requirements. The team make sure the aircraft is right for the job in terms of things like wheelchair access, weight and passenger agility. Flight co-ordinators also take into consideration the distances being travelled (hopefully no longer than 2 hours) when selecting the right aircraft.
Angel Flight has everything from a single engine 4 seater to a Citation jet and all are privately owned and volunteered.
- To be able to fly with Angel Flight, passengers must be medically stable, ambulatory and physically able to enter and exit a small aircraft without assistance from the pilot. They must also be able to sit up in the aircraft with a seatbelt on for an extended period of time and if necessary be able to communicate with the pilot.
- Passengers are encouraged to bring a friend or relative to travel with them and children must be accompanied by an adult.
- Angel Flight can also assist on multiple occasions for attending follow-up appointments or undertaking a series of treatments for a medical condition.
- It generally takes 5-7 working days for an Angel Flight coordinator to organise a flight.
- For further information visit www.angelflight.org.au