All aboard the at-sea ambulance

This article has photo gallery Published on LCDR Lucito Irlandez (author), LSIS Peter Thompson (photographer)

Topic(s): MRH-90 Taipan, HMAS Adelaide (L01), HMAS Darwin (F04), Indo-Pacific Endeavour, Reserves

Sub Lieutenant Lauren Beaufils stands before a MRH-90 Taipan helicopter on the flight deck of HMAS Adelaide prior to a winch deck transfer to HMAS Darwin, as the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017 task group sails off the east coast of Australia. (photo: LSIS Peter Thompson)
Sub Lieutenant Lauren Beaufils stands before a MRH-90 Taipan helicopter on the flight deck of HMAS Adelaide prior to a winch deck transfer to HMAS Darwin, as the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017 task group sails off the east coast of Australia.

It was her first time at sea when Sub Lieutenant Lauren Beaufils had the opportunity to participate in a medical evacuation exercise onboard HMAS Adelaide, with the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 17 Task Group off the coast of Townsville.

The Reserve Public Relations Officer was on her final phase of Reserve Entry Officers’ Course when the unique opportunity arose to be winched from a MRH-90 helicopter to HMAS Darwin and then return as a ‘patient’. Joining Sub Lieutenant Beaufils was Lieutenant Commander Brandon Ikimau, Fleet Operations Medical Staff Officer from Sea Training Group, who was overseeing the exercise and assessing the Fleet’s capabilities.

“There are many unexpected variables that can arise during the exercise that heightens the complexity of the situation” Lieutenant Commander Ikimau said.

Sub Lieutenant Beaufils had to role-play a watchkeeper who suffered a mysterious illness whilst onboard Darwin. Without any prior warning, the medical team had to quickly identify possible diagnoses and prepare the patient for evacation back to Adelaide and her superior medical facilities.

Sub Lieutenant Beaufils was then winched onto the MRH-90 helicopter, the primary ‘ambulance at sea’ and received immediate medical assistance by the onboard Aero-Medical Evacuation team as they returned to Adelaide. Once landed, she was taken to the resuscitation room at the onboard Primary Casualty Reception Facility where she was diagnosed with a kidney stone and received treatment in a simulated environment by Martine Operational Health Unit Resuscitation Team, led by Nursing Officer Lieutenant Tania Nathan.

“It’s a great opportunity for the Martine Operational Health Unit to integrate with the organic health capability on board the ship,” Lieutenant Nathan said.

HMAS Adelaide is hosting five trainees during their final phase of training before disembarking in Darwin mid-September. Sub Lieutenant Beaufils joined the Navy earlier this year and said the introduction to life at sea was one to remember.

“It was an exhilarating and inspiring challenge for my first sea-going experience,’ she said.

“You see first-hand how professional and efficient our medical and aviation teams can respond to a medical emergency.

“It was only a few months ago I decided to look for a more challenging career outside my civilian job. I could never have imagined how many incredible opportunities I’ve had in the Navy in such a short period of time.”

To find out more about joining the Navy as a Public Relations Officer visit https://www.defencejobs.gov.au/jobs/reserves/navy/public-relations