Nursing Officer helps Hornsby storm victims

Published on Ms Eliza Bavin (author), LAC Oliver Carter (photographer)

Location(s): Hornsby, NSW

Lieutenant Stephanie Castree, a Nursing Officer onboard HMAS Choules, takes the blood pressure of a patient in the ship's sickbay. (photo: LAC Oliver Carter)
Lieutenant Stephanie Castree, a Nursing Officer onboard HMAS Choules, takes the blood pressure of a patient in the ship's sickbay.

Nursing Officer, Lieutenant Stephanie Castree clinical placement saw her as part of the frontline response to the mini-tornado, which ripped through the Hornsby area of Sydney, New South Wales.

Currently working with the NSW Ambulance Services as part of her ongoing training, Lieutenant Castree was part of the team that tended to the injuries sustained in the storm.

“When we arrived at Westfield, it was pretty chaotic. While people were being evacuated, my team went to check the cinema, which had had part of the roof collapse, to make sure there were no casualties,” said Lieutenant Castree.

“Luckily the cinema wasn’t screening at the time, so thankfully we only saw one patient. Given the scale of damage, it’s lucky there weren’t more serious injuries. A lot of people did sustain basic bumps and bruises from being blown over by the wind.”

Lieutenant Castree is currently working as part of the Maritime Operational Health Unit (MOHU) based at HMAS Penguin. All MOHU personnel spend considerable time growing and maintaining their skills through clinical placements in a variety of settings - for the majority of the unit, this entails three days placement per week, with the remainder of the week involving collective training and unit taskings at HMAS Penguin.

Lieutenant Castree says her placement with NSW Ambulance is a great arrangement and complements the time she spends at a local hospital.

“Working with the NSW Ambulance service, I get to develop my expertise in the pre-hospital treatment environment. There are some similarities to nursing in the maritime environment, - at sea, you are also working in a limited space and have limited resources at your fingertips. Our goal is to stabilise a patient until we can get them to better treatment, as soon as possible,” said Lieutenant Castree.

In addition to her clinical placement with NSW Ambulance, Lieutenant Castree is also completing placements with local hospitals.

“I also get to see the other side of treatment during my clinical placements at hospitals. These placements are a great way for me to build my skills in a range of areas, as we cover off on everything from emergency and primary health care, pre-hospital care, spinal, burns and acute nursing care.”

Recently, Lieutenant Castree was able to share her wealth of knowledge, with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force (PNGDF), when she deployed onboard HMAS Choules as part of Operation LANDSCAPE.
 
“Working with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force was great. We consulted with Tarangua Naval Base health centre staff on their processes and helped them develop systems and their emergency trolley. We also provided some first aid training to Papua New Guinea patrol boat sailors, to help them deal with medical situations while at sea” said Lieutenant Castree.

Lieutenant Stephanie Castree, a Nursing Officer onboard HMAS Choules, talks with children visiting the Papua New Guinea Defence Force HMPNGS Tarangau Medical Centre.

Lieutenant Stephanie Castree, a Nursing Officer onboard HMAS Choules, talks with children visiting the Papua New Guinea Defence Force HMPNGS Tarangau Medical Centre.