WA grower owned, grain handler and marketer, CBH Group, will support the Royal Flying Doctors Service in WA to monitor the condition of airstrips through the biggest ever grant from its Community Investment Program.

The co-operative will provide $300,000 to the RFDS to continue its airstrip survey and evaluation program. The partnership involves an annual investment of $100,000 for the next three years to enable the RFDS to continue to survey and evaluate more than 700 airstrips around the state.

CBH Group CEO Dr Andy Crane said the sponsorship is a major investment in the safety of rural communities. “At CBH, safety always comes first. "Helping the RFDS to safely deliver primary health care services throughout rural and remote WA by air was an easy decision for the co-operative because it fitted neatly with our own values.“Many grain growers and others in rural WA have used the RFDS and CBH is proud to support such a vital community service,” he said.

The RFDS services 98% of the state. In the 2012-13 it transported 9092 patients while more than 30,000 people attended clinics it provided. The service has 15 aircraft that provide medical and transport services to all parts of the state including  wheat growing areas.

RFDS, CEO in WA, Grahame Marshall, welcomed the partnership with CBH.  “In an emergency it’s critical that we can get to a patient as quickly as possible. "This can require our aircraft to land on gravel and dirt airstrips in remote areas. “It’s imperative that we maintain a comprehensive register of airstrips and know what condition they are in. "This sponsorship will allow this to happen. "We look forward to a long partnership with the CBH Group," he said.

ABOVE: One of the aircraft used by the RFDS in WA is a PC-12 Pilatus seen here flying over Rottnest Island. (Photo: RFDS)