Medical teams on task during exercise

Published on LCDR Alistair Tomlinson (author), ABIS Tom Gibson (photographer)

Royal Australian Navy members of the Maritime Operational Heath Unit conduct a medevac simulation aboard HMAS Choules during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015. (photo: ABIS Tom Gibson)
Royal Australian Navy members of the Maritime Operational Heath Unit conduct a medevac simulation aboard HMAS Choules during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2015.

Medical personnel on the Royal Australian Navy’s landing ship dock HMAS Choules undertook a period of intensive training as Exercise TALISMAN SABRE 2015 moved into full swing off the coast of the Northern Territory recently.

The Choules medical team were preparing for both exercise and real-life emergencies and to work with their US Navy counterparts, onboard the nearby American amphibious ship USS Bonhomme Richard. For the eight personnel of the Maritime Operational Health Unit embarked in Choules, the ability to work alongside the United States Navy was essential. 

Choules’ Commanding Officer Commander Chris Aulmann said the team used the period to focus on a broad range of medical emergencies, from handling and triaging combat casualties to medical situations which could occur on humanitarian operations.

“In an amphibious environment like this one, we have to be ready for anything and we have to be ready to work alongside our American Allies," he said.

"This means we need to be across each other’s medical procedures."

The Australian team consisted of a medical officer, nursing officers and medics, including Reservists—who all brought with them the irreplaceable experience of working on clinical placements in some of Australia’s largest tertiary hospitals and ambulance services.

The Officer in Charge of the unit, Lieutenant Commander Deirdre Smith said the Australian Navy's medical capability and its ability to work with the US and other nations has been put to the test regularly over the years from East Timor to the Solomon Islands.

“Our unit is proof of how Navy is able to provide high level medical care should any accidents or injuries occur,” she said.