Wednesday 28 September 2016

Men of Yore: Dr John Flynn

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.
John Flynn, in his early twenties (Source)

John Flynn OBE (25 November 1880 – 5 May 1951) was an Australian Presbyterian minister who founded what became the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the world's first air ambulance.

Always thinking of the needs of those in isolated communities, in September 1910 Flynn published The Bushman's Companion which was distributed free throughout inland Australia. He took up the opportunity to succeed E. E. Baldwin as the Smith of Dunesk Missioner at Beltana, a tiny settlement 500 kilometres north of Adelaide. He was ordained in Adelaide for this work in January 1911. The missioners visited the station properties in a wide radius of Beltana, and their practical and spiritual service was valued in the isolated localities. Flynn used it as an opportunity to look at the potential for something bigger. By 1912, after writing a report for his church superiors on the difficulties of ministering to such a widely scattered population, Flynn was made the first superintendent of the Australian Inland Mission. As well as tending to spiritual matters, Flynn quickly established the need for medical care for residents of the vast Australian outback, and established a number of bush hospitals.[1]  
The Royal Flying Doctors
By 1917, Flynn was already considering the possibility of new technology, such as radio and aircraft, to assist in providing a more useful acute medical service, and then received a letter from an Australian pilot serving in World War I, Clifford Peel, who had heard of Flynn's speculations and outlined the capabilities and costs of then-available planes. This material was published in the church's magazine, the start of Flynn turning his considerable fund-raising talents to the task of establishing a flying medical service. The first flight of the Aerial Medical Service was in 1928 from Cloncurry, Queensland. A museum commemorating the founding of the Royal Flying Doctor Service is located at John Flynn Place in Cloncurry.[2] 
Flynn married the secretary of the AIM, Jean Baird, in 1931 at the relatively advanced age of 51.


One thing you can always depend on is that Aussies will always do things on a big scale: ranches, cattle herds, straight roads, railway networks, post-apocalyptic movies, and ambulance services.  Yep, when you're dealing with a country the size of Oz you need to have an ambulance service on a big scale.  One that can cross a continental country, and fast.  That means that you need an ambulance that can literally fly.  Enter Dr John Flynn and the Royal Flying Doctors.

The Royal Flying Doctors meant (and means) that injured Bruce's and Sheilas who are stranded in the outback thousands of miles from a hospital can get transported from their remote location to a hospital and recieve medical treatment en-route.  That requires thinking on a big scale, and being technically minded enough to utilise the highest-technology medical equipment available.  And that's what Dr John Flynn did: he used the latest technology (airplanes, radio communication and more) to make his Flying Doctors concept a reality.


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