From his young family to the frontline

Published on FLTLT Dion Isaacson (author), CPL Chris Beerens (photographer)

Topic(s): Operation HIGHROAD

Royal Australian Navy officer Lieutenant Commander Steve Line is deployed to Task Group Afghanistan as the second in charge of the Hamid Karzai International Airport military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. (photo: CPL Chris Beerens)
Royal Australian Navy officer Lieutenant Commander Steve Line is deployed to Task Group Afghanistan as the second in charge of the Hamid Karzai International Airport military hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Nursing officer Lieutenant Commander Steven Line had only just started his deployment to Afghanistan when his team responded to a mass casualty event.

“It was a targeted attack in the city of Kabul. A vehicle carrying an improvised explosive device had exploded so a lot of people were caught in it,” Lieutenant Commander Line said.

“After that initial blast there was also a second wave attack, but the attackers fled because the Afghan security response was so effective.”

Lieutenant Line works at a NATO military hospital at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

“Once the victims started arriving at the hospital, it was amazing to see how our multi-nation team came together when faced with this emergency,” he said.

“Our training and experience went into action, and we got it done, with successful outcomes for our patients.” 

Only two weeks earlier, he had farewelled his wife and two daughters – the youngest only 14-weeks-old – for a six-month deployment.

The hospital provides a range of services, from routine and primary care through to life-saving emergency resuscitation, a blood bank, trauma surgery and dental treatment.

Australian Defence Force members working at the US-led facility are part of Australia’s contribution to the Resolute Support Mission.

It is Lieutenant Commander Line’s second career in the ADF; he initially joined as a submariner.

“When I joined the Navy, I became a combat systems operator specialising in sonar,” he said.

“After serving my initial term, I left the Navy to study a degree in nursing at Edith Cowan University.

“Once I graduated, I started working in emergency medicine at a hospital in Perth and applied to re-join the Navy as a Reserve nursing officer.”

As a reservist, he has been involved with a number of exercises, including Pacific Partnership and Rim of the Pacific.

“In the military, you really must learn quickly how to improvise and adapt to produce a good medical outcome for our patients in adverse environments,” he said.

“I have done a lot of humanitarian care and disaster response in my military career, so my hospital back home benefits from that experience.”

Lieutenant Commander Line is deployed on Operation HIGHROAD as part of the Australian contribution to the Resolute Support Mission.

About 300 Australian Defence Force personnel are deployed on the operation.