It is an honour and my pleasure to serve (again!) as President of our
This is the year in which we made the bold (and some might say risky)
decision to change our name from 'ISAS - Australasian Chapter' to the
'Aeromedical Society of Australasia'. No longer would members be asked
'what is ISAS?' and 'where are the other Chapters?' Now our name leaves
that history behind and simply reflects the work we are all involved in;
that of aeromedicine. It is also a name resonating with organisations
around the world which use similar terms (aeromedical, aeromed, airmed,
etc) to describe themselves.
This process is now complete with a new logo, updated official
documentation and a revitalised and expanded website. It hasn't been as
simple a task as you might imagine and I'm grateful to the Committee of the
Society, particularly our Secretary, Geri Malone, vice President Graeme
Field and Treasurer Chris Webber for completing the transition.
I'm aware that other organisations have remonstrated with their membership
(in jocular fashion) to help 'forget' old terminology. The Medevac
Foundation which was previously FARE threatened members with making a
donation if anyone made reference to 'FARE' again! I'm thinking we should
have a square cookie jar for the deposit of fines by those who forget
the change and still make reference to 'ISAS', I'm putting everyone on
notice that in Perth there will be no mercy shown to those who talk about
Speaking of Perth, like you, I am particularly looking forward to our
meeting in Western Australia. We last held the annual scientific meeting in
WA in 2004 in Fremantle and had a great meeting and a great time. I'm
confident the 2011 conference will exceed everyone's expectations and
inspire us all. It hasn't been an easy conference for the local organisers;
with most brought in later than usual to pick up the responsibility for
arrangements. May I particularly thank Dr Sally Edmonds who has led that
group? She could probably have done without the stresses involved; and
would no doubt say that she isn't the only one to contribute - but there
always has to be a leader and she has been that!
During the year the Committee has increased the role of Kate Smith Events
in supporting the local organising committee. There are now procedures
which document the responsibilities of the local organising committee and
Kate Smith Events. This will make future conferences much easier for the
local members; with the increasing and better defined partnership with Kate
Smith Events. I can speak for the whole Committee in thanking Kate Smith
herself for helping forge this successful relationship. We are putting the
final touches on a new agreement which will formalise this for several
years in advance.
The more material challenges facing the Society are to maintain an outward
focus. What do I mean by that? Well for all of us there are daily
challenges in our own fields of endeavour, our own organisations and our
own geographical area of responsibility. These require a lot of energy and
focus which tend to make it difficult to see the bigger picture. We each
work to solve problems in our own clinical and operational contexts and, by
default, to that internally. It's often only when we fail to find a
solution internally that we seek one outside.
I'd like to see the Society increase its role as a forum for exchange of
ideas; a clearing house for solutions. We've struggled for many years to
develop consensus documents as basic standards for use by anyone seeking a
'framework'. With some notable exceptions (eg. the work done by Ambulance
NZ on air ambulance and SAR standards) the development of standards has
been a slow and incomplete process. There is much yet to be done.
I have no doubt that we all value the networking opportunities provided by
the annual Scientific Meeting when we meet new friends and old. That
however, is a once a year event and I'd like to see the Society exploring
ways to maintain those interactions around the calendar.
The periodic Newsletter have been a great feature of the Society's life and
appreciated by all but ask anyone who has edited the Newsletter and they
will tell you how difficult it is to elicit material from members to supply
content sufficient for regular publication. It is tough!
We also face the problem that maintaining, let alone increasing membership
is a continuing challenge. I believe the Society needs to regularly ask
what members want from their membership and seek to better meet their
needs. However, from our small membership we need to expand the group who
work to meet those needs while working to increase the total membership and
increase the numbers of those who work to realise the Society's potential.
In other words, it is a circular chain from which we need to break free.
May I set the following challenge to our existing members? Nominate 5 new
members to join the Society…. They may be from your own organisation or
from others. It doesn't matter. Be an advocate for the Society. Email them
with the Society's web page. Entice them with the prospect of the attending
the annual meeting. Encourage them to present their work, their ideas and
their experience. Seduce them with the possibility of winning the $3,000
scholarship - awarded annually.
I believe there are other ways to meet these challenges. Some have been
taken already. The engagement by our Society of an events company to lead
the organisation and coordination of the annual scientific meeting (in
partnership with a local organising committees), is one very important one.
As already mentioned, this will be a relief to previous local organisers
who have had to learn lots of things from scratch without much corporate
knowledge transfer from one year to the next.
The Society has maintained and nurtured relationships with similar
organisations in Europe and North America. I believe there are
opportunities to forge relationships with evolving aeromedical communities
closer to home; thinking of Asia in particular. Japan has had a HEMS system
for just over 10 years. China is about to embark on the development of one
from almost a zero base. In other parts of Asia, quite sophisticated
aeromedical resources have been developed. For instance I was recently on a
neonatal retrieval from Thailand where we had the choice of a Bell 412, an
EC 145, a Cessna Caravan, a Beech 200, a Beech 350 or a Beech 800 for the
domestic leg of the mission! I was naturally impressed and more than a
Whether new or existing these services are looking to grow and learn from
international bench-marking. They want to interact with services and
peer-group organisations around the world for models to emulate and/or
adapt to local needs. The Society can contribute to this growth and
evolution through forming links to share ideas and learn from each other.
Finally, I'd like to suggest that modern social media tools might increase
the dialogue between our members; and increase the participation rate
amongst those members in such activities as joining the Society's Committee
(Board), being part of a local organising committee and developing new
standards and enhancing existing ones. Facebook, Twitter, Linked In,
Google+ and the many others have rapidly found a place in most parts of
modern life and have become self-sustaining forums for interchange.
Although their use and content is often considered banal, these social
media tools are moving into more serious areas of life - including
professional peer groups such as ours.
I'd like to thank the members of the Committee for their contribution to
the Society throughout the year. The work of the Committee is mostly done
by telephone conference. It is not an easy process; especially as Committee
members have demands on their time from their jobs which often exceed the
available hours of the day! I thank them for giving so generously of their
time and their expertise in this way.
See you in Perth!
A reference to a certain Australian politician's comments - made I
recall while our Society met in Christchurch NZ in 2010.