'Excellence under pressure' - enhancing inter agency relations

This article has photo gallery Published on CPOMED(U) Zamri Burns (author and photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Penguin, Sydney

Topic(s): HMAS Penguin, Submarine and Underwater Medicine Unit

NSW Ambulance and SUMU staff conducting water rescue training at HMAS Penguin.  (photo: CPOMED(U) Zamri Burns)
NSW Ambulance and SUMU staff conducting water rescue training at HMAS Penguin.

A perfect day in Sydney’s Middle Harbour set the scene for the first of many waterborne rescue exercises for the Submarine and Underwater Medicine Unit (SUMU) based at HMAS Penguin

Supporting the NSW Ambulance Special Operations Rescue course run by seasoned paramedics Steve Green, Pete Bittner, Matt Pepper and Tim Nulty, SUMU Underwater Medics jumped in to learn how to recover seriously injured patients from the water in the safest and most expeditious manner possible.

Participants in the training utilised equipment from both workplaces. Rescue students and medics showed their skills and learnt new techniques which can be used in the future, showcasing practical cooperation between the services.

Supported by RAN zodiacs and the ADF dive school, the training was conducted using realistic circumstances and reactions. This ‘high fidelity training’ showed the difficulty that can be encountered in various situations.

Officer-in-charge SUMU, LCDR Tenille Chapman said both services have a set of skills that complement each other very well.

“It’s great to see both services working together in such a harmonious fashion.

“The development of interagency operability in these areas is an important facet of the training of our Underwater Medics; this is key to the delivery of a niche medical capability to the RAN,” LCDR Chapman said.

“I look forward to this continuing well into the future”. 

Petty Officer Underwater Medic Marcus Veedikint and Able Seaman Underwater Medic Shawna Maxwell called the training “invaluable” and both look forward to using these skills in the future if the need ever arose.

The close ties built with the NSW Ambulance service, in the future will hopefully culminate in further training opportunities for their paramedics and our ADF medics with the potential opportunity to conduct regular clinical placements to further enhance Navy underwater medics’ skills.

The Submarine and Underwater Medicine Unit was founded in 1963 and is currently based at HMAS Penguin with a sister unit based at HMAS Stirling. Both units provide highly specialised medical support to the ADF’s diving and submarine community.