Medical experience put to use in Afghanistan
Reserve nursing officer Lieutenant Nicole Johns is using valuable clinical experience gained at the Royal Hobart Hospital’s emergency department while on deployment with the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in Afghanistan.
She is currently deployed to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Qargha, on the outskirts of Kabul. There, she is on call 24/7 to treat patients at the camp’s role 1 medical facility, or activate as part of a coalition quick reaction force.
“Working in a busy metropolitan hospital has provided me with the skills to think on my feet and act quickly,” Lieutenant Johns said.
The medical team at Qargha administer resuscitation as an initial response; If patients require additional care they are evacuated to the role 2 hospital at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul or the role 3 hospital at Bagram Airfield.
“We are more likely to witness serious traumatic injuries here in Afghanistan than back in Australia, being located at a FOB can present logistical challenges in that regard,” she said.
“We have to work a bit harder here to ensure our personnel receive the same level of treatment they would at home.”
Lieutenant Johns completed six weeks of specialised pre-deployment training prior to deploying.
“There was a large medical focus during that training as well as general soldiering skills including a five-day combat shooting course,” she said.
She said she missed her home in Hobart and the Tasmanian lifestyle.
“I miss hiking up Mount Wellington and the beach on Bruny Island.”
There are more than 300 ADF personnel deployed to Afghanistan on Operation Highroad — Australia’s contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support mission to bring security and stability to Afghanistan.