Navy medical emergencies in safe hands

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT John Thompson (author), ABIS Steven Thomson (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Penguin

Topic(s): HMAS Penguin

Lieutenant Commander Rob Turner administers an injection of ketamine to a casualty during a simulated medical emergency at the Maritime Operational Health Unit HMAS Penguin. (photo: ABIS Steven Thomson)
Lieutenant Commander Rob Turner administers an injection of ketamine to a casualty during a simulated medical emergency at the Maritime Operational Health Unit HMAS Penguin.

It is a potentially catastrophic scenario: two critically injured in a helicopter crash, a patient undergoing an amputation and another recovering from serious injuries in a fall, with medics also trying to help a woman giving birth. Suddenly news breaks of 15 injured in a small boat collision and fire in a dock. And it’s all taking place on one of Australia’s amphibious assault ships.

Fortunately, though, it is only an exercise.

Lieutenant Steven Grosser, the Simulator Coordinator at Navy’s state-of-the-art Maritime Operational Health Unit at HMAS Penguin in Sydney, has been preparing for this day for months.

“This was an important simulation exercise – the first of its kind we’ve undertaken since 2015,” Lieutenant Grosser said.

More than 50 people were involved in the exercise including HMAS Canberra’s medical team and Army representatives.

Commodore Training, Commodore Justin Jones, observed the exercise and was impressed with what he saw.

“The Royal Australian Navy Medical School Simulator is the only facility of its type in Australia, and the professionalism on display here is exceptional,”  he said.

“This is the future – the better we are at training, assessing and certifying our capabilities, the better prepared we’ll be when we get to sea.”

The exercise ran over a full day with the simulator set up so the unit could conduct treatment to replicate patient flow on an amphibious assault ship.

The medics were confronted by a series of critical incident scenarios designed to test how well the medical teams communicate with one another and between commands, as well as how they manage patient care including resuscitation and treatment, post op-care and ward-based treatment.

“Overall, the teams performed exceedingly well,” Lieutenant Grosser said.

“The only way days like this are a success is if everyone works together, and they did.”