• South Australia Industry Dinner

    Posted on: 4th October, 2018
    South Australia Industry Dinner

    The National Wine Centre was again the venue for the annual Adelaide ARCIA networking dinner on Thursday 4th October 2018. Over sixty people attended another great night and took the opportunity to network with their peers and colleagues at one of Adelaide’s premier venues. As with other ARCIA events, there was much interest in the awarding of the Industry Professional of the Year for 2018 and Peter Bryant was a popular selection. With a background spanning many years in South Australia Peter has a reputation of balancing the needs of his employer (Motorola) and his many clients, a truly professional approach to his role and a credit to our industry. Peter will now become the South Australian representative for the selection of the National award at the Industry Gala Dinner in Melbourne in November.

    The radio communications industry in South Australia has a long and interesting history of support and engagement with the Royal Flying Doctor Service. Back in the early twentieth century, Rev John Flynn worked with the settlers in outback Australia on behalf of his church. One of the concerns he had was that people on remote properties had little or no real medical support available to them, road travel to the nearest medical facilities would often take days. Rev Flynn had a vision of providing a service to these remote locations using planes, and in 1928 the pre-cursor to the RFDS was founded in Cloncurry in Queensland, with one plane on loan from the fledgeling Queensland and Northern Territory Airway Service (QANTAS). Back in that time, the RFDS had a patient contact rate of three patients every two days.

    Having started the service John Flynn then realised the next problem was having contact from these remote locations to be able to summon the air ambulance and seek advice for urgent medical situations. Dr Flynn spoke with Alf Traegar from Adelaide and outlined the problems, HF radio was obviously a solution but most of thee locations had no reliable power supplies to make radio operation viable. Alf Traegar then designed the ‘Pedal wireless’ which combined a set of bicycle pedals connected to a generator, the operator would then simply ‘pedal’ the generator and that would power the radio – suddenly there was a viable solution to the tyranny of distance. 

    At the Adelaide dinner, Alf Traegar’s daughter, Anne Smallwood, gave an interesting talk on her memories of her father's development of the pedal wireless and the relationship with the RFDS. It appears that Alf was well ahead of his time in many ways as he was also looking at developing desalinisation plants to turn salt water into fresh, plus other climate-related inventions. It was very interesting to learn about this unique development of yet another ‘wireless solution’. Following the talk from Anne we had a representative from the modern RFDS, Anthea Rice, give an outline of the development of this unique and much valued medical support service and the importance of the radio communications in the development of the modern RFDS. From the days of a single plane and patient contact every one and a half days, the RFDS has now developed to over 60 planes and in excess of 300,000 patient contacts every year.

    From an industry point of view, there are still links to the pedal wireless and Alf Traegar, Justin Salisbury of CRS Accessories/Commwide Services in Adelaide is Alf Traegars grandson and continues the Traegar family link with wireless communications. In addition, Adelaide based HF radio manufacturer Codan Radio celebrates its sixtieth anniversary this year and the company was founded on manufacturing and supplying transceivers for the RFDS network. Even today the bulk of the fixed HF radio equipment used by the RFDS is Codan product. Our two guest speakers at the Adelaide dinner gave us interesting insights to some radio history that has shown innovation and initiative and continues through until today. 

    At the final stage of the dinner, each table was encouraged to donate money into a container on the table, highest total (won by CSE Tetracom) won a twin-pack of wine donated by the National Wine Centre. The proceeds of this unique fundraising option were just over $1240 and this was donated to the RFDS to help with keeping them flying and offering a much-valued service.

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