Two Navy Medical Officers had their communications prowess tested recently, when they provided training for more than 300 medical practitioners in Vietnam as a part of PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP 2014.
Lieutenants Craig Blackburn and Rebekah Tomlinson joined Army and Air Force Officers in conducting training seminars at the biggest and busiest hospitals in Da Nang City.
At Da Nang General Hospital more than 2,000 patients are treated each day for trauma, illnesses, emergency care, depression and dental care but Lieutenant Craig Blackburn, from Cairns, said the hospital staff lacked the equipment to provide proper medical treatment for so many patients.
“The emergency department has such limited resources that the equipment we used during the training seminar was later utilised to treat a severely injured road accident patient,” he said.
“The doctors do the best they can with limited resources but they are overwhelmed each day by so many patients.”
One of the biggest challenges was using interpreters to communicate with their Vietnamese counterparts during the training, which included wound treatment, anaesthesia, prosthetics, medicine, physical therapy and occupational therapy advice.
Lieutenant Tomlinson, from Rockingham, Western Australia, said the Da Nang Orthopaedics and Rehab Hospital provided extensive services for 20,000 out-patients per year, including many victims of unexploded ordnance who have blast wounds.
“The interaction with the staff was phenomenal because the doctors and nurses were so enthusiastic about providing their patients with the best treatment possible,” she said.
She said the seminars were designed to enhance the knowledge of local medical practitioners for long term improvements in health care rather than techniques for initial treatment.
At the 500-bed Military Hospital 17, the Australian Defence Force team conducted specialist training to enhance the nursing staff’s military medical evacuation procedures, as well as the treatment of trauma and battlefield wounds.
The Australian Defence Force contingent departed Da Nang on June 15, embarked in the 9,000-tonne Japanese Ship Kunisaki, to continue the multinational humanitarian assistance mission in the Cambodian port of Sihanoukville.
PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP is an annual event, designed to improve maritime security, conduct humanitarian assistance, and strengthen disaster response preparedness through closer regional cooperation.
The PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP series of exercises was conceived following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami as a way to improve the interoperability of the region’s military forces, governments, and humanitarian organisations during disaster relief operations.
Imagery is available on the Australian Defence Image Library at http://images.defence.gov.au/S20141721.