Nurse trades sea for sand

This article has photo gallery Published on CPL Sebastian Beurich (author and photographer)

Topic(s): Operation HIGHROAD

Navy Lieutenant Lauren Keany measures a patient's blood pressure in the NATO Hospital at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.  (photo: CPL Sebastian Beurich)
Navy Lieutenant Lauren Keany measures a patient's blood pressure in the NATO Hospital at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is a long way from the ocean – especially for someone who’s used to serving at sea. Nursing Officer Lieutenant Lauren Keany, currently deployed on Operation HIGHROAD, is based at the NATO hospital in Kabul.
 
Working in the emergency department alongside coalition partners to provide health care to Australian, coalition and Afghanistan personnel, Lieutenant Keany is one of the first responders during an emergency.
 
“If there is a mass casualty event, I act as the triage officer and sort patients by the severity of their injuries,” she said.
 
“We not only help to maintain the day-to-day health and fitness of the NATO forces, but people have said to us that they feel better going out on dangerous missions if there is a high-level of care nearby.
 
“One of the things I will take away from this deployment is being a part of two mass casualty events.
 
“In both of those, the medical team saved lives.”
 
With a long list of shipborne deployments under her belt, Lieutenant Keany said she was missing the ocean on her first land-based deployment.
 
“Working in a NATO environment is an interesting and enjoyable experience, but it can be challenging to deal with language barriers and cultural differences sometimes,” she said.
 
“Not only is this my first land-based deployment, but it’s also the longest deployment I’ve been on.”
 
After spending nearly 10 years as an intensive-care nurse at the Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital, Lieutenant Keany decided it was time for more of a challenge and joined the Navy. She commissioned as a reservist in 2011 and joined full time in 2015.
 
“With both my dad and brother serving in the Navy, I’ve always had an interest in the Australian Defence Force and the Navy in particular,” she said.
 
“So far, it’s been a challenging, rewarding career change, which has offered many experiences you wouldn’t get anywhere else.”