Underwater medicine - a specialist skill

This article has photo gallery Published on LEUT Anthony Martin (author), ABIS Leon Dafonte Fernandez (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Penguin, NSW

Topic(s): HMAS Penguin, Submarine Underwater Medical Unit

Underwater Medicine Clinician Course, Session 21 students and staff. Back row, L-R: Australian Army Soldier Medic Corporal B, Naomi Lang, Rae Young. Middle row, L-R: Royal Australian Navy Sailor Able Seaman Medic Byron Thomas, Leith Strachan. Front row, L-R: Royal Australian Navy Sailor Leading Seaman Medic David Bell, Petty Officer David Saunders, and Able Seaman Haidan Allan, at HMAS Penguin, Sydney. (photo: ABIS Leon Dafonte Fernandez)
Underwater Medicine Clinician Course, Session 21 students and staff. Back row, L-R: Australian Army Soldier Medic Corporal B, Naomi Lang, Rae Young. Middle row, L-R: Royal Australian Navy Sailor Able Seaman Medic Byron Thomas, Leith Strachan. Front row, L-R: Royal Australian Navy Sailor Leading Seaman Medic David Bell, Petty Officer David Saunders, and Able Seaman Haidan Allan, at HMAS Penguin, Sydney.

Students of the Royal Australian Navy Underwater Medicine Clinician course, have celebrated the completion of seven months training with an informal graduation held outside the Submarine Underwater Medical Unit at HMAS Penguin.

Underwater medicine is a specialist area of military medicine that requires expertise that is not generally available from civilian organisations.

The training in underwater medicine provides an advanced level of skills and knowledge, which can only be gained through experience within the Navy submarine and diving medicine environment, in combination with the appropriate post-graduate training.

In addition to the provision of hyperbaric therapy, the Underwater Medicine Clinicians are skilled in support and expert advice on diving and submarine medicine, to the Australian Defence Force.

Tasks generally include; providing health care for all ADF diving personnel, including emergency recompression for diving accident victims, monitoring and maintaining health standards for ADF diving and submarine personnel, training in underwater medicine and treatment and, advice and support in times of emergency.

Graduating from the course has been a career highlight for Leading Seaman Medic David Bell from Newcastle.

“It has been a challenge to get here and I am looking forward to getting out there and doing the job,” said Leading Seaman Bell.

The Director of Fleet Health, Captain Amanda Garlick gave a short speech commending the graduates for their achievement and enforcing in them, the importance of their role as underwater medics.

“The Underwater Medicine Clinicians course provides a vital capability to support the diving and underwater community in the ADF,” she said.

“The underwater medics provide immediate and qualified healthcare to operations especially in remote locations when their expertise is required,” said Captain Garlick.

The seven course members included both Army and Navy personnel. The graduates will post to locations to provide immediate support to their respective units with their new found skills.

The Submarine Underwater Medical Unit is co-located near the ADF Diving School at HMAS Penguin in Balmoral, Sydney.