Home' Army News : November 10th 2011 Contents 24 TRAINING
Army November 10, 2011
By Sgt Andrew Hetherington
MEDICAL personnel from
6 Health Spt Coy, based at Oakleigh
Barracks, were literally thrown
in the deep end during a training
exercise at HMAS Cerberus during
Medics, environmental health per-
sonnel, nurses and doctors formed a
group of 27 who were put through
their paces in Exercise Vyner Brooke,
run by staff at the HMAS Cerberus
Navy Medical Training School and
6 Health Spt Coy advanced medi-
cal technician Sgt Leigh Wright said
the purpose of the exercise was to
familiarise unit personnel with Navy's
environment and culture.
"Army doctors and nurses now
deploy on joint operations such as
Pacific Partnership and in the future
there will be the increased likelihood
of Army medical personnel working
aboard the new landing helicopter
dock ships, so it was a great opportu-
nity to work with Navy," Sgt Wright
said.The exercise began with a Navy
swim test, which was a daunting pros-
pect for some.
"Some of us found it a bit chal-
lenging as there's a bit more to it than
the Army swim test," he said.
"We had to jump off a 3m platform
into the water in cams without boots,
and then complete a 10m underwater
swim, followed by a 50m swim and 15
minutes of treading water.
"We had to pass this phase of the
training to continue with other water
training activities during the exercise."
After being shown how to don ther-
mal protective suits and life jackets
within six minutes of being given an
abandon ship order, personnel were
taught survival-at-sea drills which
included being submersed in water and
huddling with others to keep warm in
near-freezing ocean conditions.
"After practising this for about an
hour, we then were taught how to enter
a life raft and were towed 200m into
Western Port Bay," Sgt Wright said.
"For about two hours we were left
to our own devices to paddle back to
"During this phase we took turns
practising towing an injured colleague
through the water on our backs, using
our feet hooked under their arm pits."
For participants, the sea-going sce-
nario was an enlightening experience.
"Our thermal suits seemed to con-
tain more water than the raft and, sur-
prisingly, after the initial shock of feel-
ing cold, we found it didn't take long
to get warm," he said.
On the final day participants were
briefed on Navy capabilities and the
daily routines of medical personnel on
For Sgt Wright, the standout aspect
of the exercise was not the training but
how everyone from his unit worked
"The highlight for me was see-
ing everyone bond as a cohesive team
in an unfamiliar environment," Sgt
"Some of us found certain aspects
of the Navy swim test stressful,
but overcame our fears and pushed
through for the betterment of the team,
while at the same time being able to
still have a giggle."
One of the exercise participants
was one of 6 Health Spt Coy's medical
officers, Capt Stuart Perry.
At the time of the exercise he had
only been a member of the ARes for
His civilian job is as a rural general
"This was my first training exercise
with the unit and for me the in-water
activities and how to survive in the
water were the standout aspects of the
training," Capt Perry said.
"After the naval capability briefs I
now have a greater appreciation of the
roles of Navy medics aboard ships.
"What they do is difficult, intense
and to perform their role aboard a ship
is a testament to their courage and
training. It's fantastic."
DOC FINDS CALLING IN DISASTER RELIEF
BEFORE enlisting in the Army
Reserve to help others outside his
civilian community, Capt Stuart
Perry had already volunteered his
specialist medical skills for an over-
seas humanitarian mission.
"Just after the Haitian earth-
quake on January 12, 2010, I was
speaking to a husband and wife
team who had worked for Médecins
Sans Frontières (MSF) in Africa for
10 years," Capt Perry said.
"When they found out what I did
they said there was a strong need
for my anaesthetist skills in Haiti
after the magnitude seven earth-
Within six weeks of offering
his assistance he found himself
deployed to the devastated country,
landing at Port-au-Prince in March.
"There were very chaotic
scenes at the airport, where we
were trying to get through customs
and local people were trying to get
out of the country," Capt Perry said.
"The destruction was as bad as
what was reported in the media,
with whole city blocks and apart-
ment complexes flattened like
decks of cards. It was quite a horrid
"I worked in a town called
Jacmel on the south coast of Haiti,
which wasn't as badly affected as
Within the first few days of being
there he had no way of foreseeing
what was about to come.
"On the first day I had diarrhoea
and the first night after arriving
in Jacmel I got called in to see a
patient who was shot through the
abdomen," he said.
"It was quite an introduction
arriving at an operating theatre I
hadn't seen, in a country with a lan-
guage I didn't speak and having a
ventilator which didn't work.
"I had to improvise immediately
and hand ventilated the gunshot
wound patient for more than an
For six weeks Capt Perry's
role had him providing anaesthetic
support working out of a two-thirds-
damaged building separate from
the local hospital.
"We performed from three-to-
five operations a day, with cases
such as gunshot wounds, emer-
gency obstetrics, road trauma and
"I had a sense I was saving lives
on a daily basis and contributing to
a country which had had it tough
for so long."
His reasons for joining the
"In October last year I had a
light-bulb moment when I was
listening to a lecture by an ARes
anaesthetist and I thought I needed
to be a part of his line of work," he
"After this lecture and after my
MSF role I also felt a sense of obli-
gation to ADF personnel."
For more information on Médecins Sans
Frontières visit http://www.msf.org/
Thrown into the deep end
Wet and wild: Personnel from 6 Health Spt Coy
conduct safety jumps into the water at Western
Port Bay during Navy familiarisation training.
Inset, Sgt Guy Price and Cpl Oren Miszelowski
help colleagues into the life raft.
Capt Stuart Perry
colleagues at a
in Haiti after the
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