Navy Nurse in Kabul

This article has photo gallery Published on CPL Max Bree (author), CPL Max Bree (photographer)

Royal Australian Navy nursing officer, Lieutenant Megan Hoare assists US Army anaesthetist Major Mike Patzkowiski during the treatment of a role-playing casualty at Nato’s Role 2 hospital at Kabul Airport.      (photo: Corporal Max Bree)
Royal Australian Navy nursing officer, Lieutenant Megan Hoare assists US Army anaesthetist Major Mike Patzkowiski during the treatment of a role-playing casualty at Nato’s Role 2 hospital at Kabul Airport.

Dust and dry heat replaced waves and cruising-watches during Lieutenant Megan Hoare’s deployment to Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Hoare, an emergency trauma nurse, was part of the first Australian Defence Force medical team to work in NATO’s Role 2 hospital at Kabul International Airport.

“The medical processes are all exactly the same when treating the patient at sea but we have a lot more resources here,” she said. 

“At sea we’ve got comms back home for medical advice but the options to evacuate a patient are much greater ashore.

“We never know quite how far away from evacuation we are going to be at sea.”

Since her deployment began in January, Lieutenant Hoare learned to appreciate why there was an 'Army way' of operating.

“I really love the Navy but getting to work with the Army has given me context to why they do things,” she said. 

“Like how evacuation works ashore as opposed to off the back of a ship.”

On arrival the Aussie team was involved in upgrading from a Role 1 facility conducting basic medical care, first aid and triage, to a Role 2 hospital handling trauma cases and multiple resuscitations.  

Czech and US Army trauma teams work in the facility along with Danes, Slovaks and Turks filling other roles.

“There were lots of language barriers,” she said. 

“Initially it was very difficult until everyone found their place.

“For the most part. language difficulties are resolved by keeping the national teams together.”

A pool of 13 Australian Defence Force personnel augments the US trauma team, helps staff the emergency room, pathology section and dental.

“The way we care for patients is very similar across the world,” Lieutenant Hoare said. 

“There are differences in procedures but it has to achieve the same outcome for the patient.”

Lieutenant Hoare said the other nationalities tried to learn some English and be as sociable as possible. 

“It’s really quite special to be working with the Turks,” she said. 

“100 years ago we were fighting; now to be working with them to achieve the same thing is pretty special.”

During their time in Afghanistan, Lieutenant Hoare and some of the team were put through familiarisation courses on US Mine Resistant Armour Protected vehicles or MRAPs.

“I wouldn’t be able to explain how cool this is to the people back home,” she said. 

“All I could say was ‘I drove this big vehicle, it was just massive’.

“I wasn’t scared, just a bit nervous; you don’t want to break big expensive things.”

Lieutenant Hoare turned down a chance to serve in HMAS Canberra in favour of Afghanistan but hoped to be aboard Navy’s newest ship soon.

“It’s been a really good experience so far, I feel really lucky to be involved,” she said. 

“It started off with a few trauma cases and sometimes it’s quiet but you never know what’s coming through the door.”