Health technology and skills tested at Talisman Saber
With more than 28,000 United States and Australian Defence Force personnel participating in Talisman Saber in Queensland recently, it was an opportunity for the military to showcase the technology, equipment and logistics of a Role 2E hospital facility.
From 15 July to 5 August the combined military undertook a range of training events as part of the biennial exercise focused on realistic, relevant training in simulated mid-intensity conflict scenarios. The Role 2E hospital provides four levels of medical support including treatment, evacuation, resupply and functions essential to maintain the health of the force.
“The thing I ask people to work on is professional mastery”
[caption id="attachment_5215" align="alignright" width="200"] Nursing officer, Lieutenant Rebekah Tomlinson, checks the blood pressure of Warrant Officer Class 2 Ron Rodgers at the role 2E hospital during Exercise Talisman Saber.[/caption]
Officer in Charge of Role 2E hospital and Commanding Officer of the Australian 2ndGeneral Health Battalion LTCOL Barney Flint said the exercise is vital.
“It’s the key,” LTCOL Flint says. “While the infantry get their levels of certification, we are trailing certification as well. “As well as reservists, we get high-end specialists who come in. “They test us for 48 hours; they bring moulage casualties and follow them though the entire system and they certify that this is a viable hospital. “They also point us in the direction of the areas we need to focus on we work on those areas throughout the year’s training regime.”
It takes just 72 hours and 275 people to have the hospital complex ready for duty. As well as health professionals, there are 35 different trades involved.
[caption id="attachment_5216" align="alignright" width="200"] Surgeons at the role 2E hospital conduct a practice scenario.[/caption]
“The most important people at the start of the build of this complex is my fork lift driver; my electrician who sets the generators and power; and my carpenter and plumber. “They have to be trained and fit, just like the infantry, because if one of them falls over, my complex build is compromised,” LTCOL Flint says.
Once built, the hospital has the ability to triage, treat and rehabilitate and includes two operating rooms, an intensive care unit, an isolation unit, and a dental facility. There are four recovery beds and 45 ward beds, of which seven are in isolation. There are also two mobile x-ray machines, pathology units capable of cross matching, a pharmacy, and a rehabilitation unit with physiotherapists and a psychiatric team. All equipment is fully deployable and used regularly for training. “We need to familiarise ourselves and make sure we know it works and how it works,” LTCOL Flint says. “We take this very seriously.”
There are two major elements LTCOL Flint says they take away from exercises such as Talisman Saber. “The thing I ask people to work on is professional mastery. “A lot of my nurses, doctors and medics work in individual clinical placement in the local areas as well as at our garrison health facility. “Their clinical skills are up to speed. “It’s being brilliant at the basics that I challenge them to.
The second is being prepared for the conditions they work in. “We occupy an area and work to a 24 hour/ seven day regime. “It’s alien to some of them and can be challenging. “When we go on a two-week exercise, they can just about sustain it. “I’ve had them out here for four weeks and they have to learn that they need to sleep for eight hours, they need to do their personal training, they need to eat properly, do their washing; it’s getting the routine going and working in the system.
“It’s a well-oiled machine; training, training, training. “Sometimes, we have to make the casualty die, because that’s how people learn. “We have emergency physicians from Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne, and we all sit down, pick each other brains, and strive for continual improvement. “It’s about good governance and getting everything achieved to the highest standard we can meet out here.”
As a non-clinician LTCOL Flint spent 24 year in the British Army become coming to Australia in 2007. He has been working in the medical fraternity since 1997.
“The reason I got involved is there is nothing better than making people better; there’s pride in what you do,” he says. “The chances of deploying are also very high, and what I have learnt, as a non-clinician, is the more you understand about health, the more you realise you don’t know.”
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