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Army February 28, 2013
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Up close with
They're some of the most important people on the battlefield but soldiers
hope to never need them. Cpl Max Bree checks up on the medics, nurses
and doctors of 1 Close Health Battalion.
IF YOU'RE being treated for a blast
wound in Afghanistan or having
your fungus-infested feet examined
at Shoalwater Bay, chances are your
carer is from 1 Close Health Battalion
Named in November 2011 under the
restructure of Army health, the battalion is
responsible for the force generation of all
close combat health support to Forcomd,
including most operational deployments
and major exercises.
CO 1CHB Lt-Col Ian Marsh has been
in command of all Forcomd close and
integral medical staff and assets since
changes to the Army health system came
into effect at the start of 2012.
"Everyone from the medic hand-
ing out the Chapstick or the Panadol to
the resuscitation teams are now under
the command of 1CHB," Lt-Col Marsh
says. "Pretty much every situation for the
deployed close or integral health system
is handled by us, but I don't provide the
field hospitals; that's done by 2GHB."
Unit medics, nurses and doctors were
brought under 1CHB's control to allow
more effective employment of available
medical personnel across Forcomd and to
quickly move health assets between dif-
ferent units as required.
The new system also provides a more
effective force structure to give medics the
extra clinical training they must complete
each year in accordance with the national
legislation for health professionals.
With almost 400 staff posted to the
battalion in Close Health Companies
around Australia, 1CHB provides combat
health platoons to support battle groups
and other supporting units, offering pri-
mary health, resuscitation, surface and
aeromedical evacuation and staging of
casualties for up to 12 hours.
The battalion has completed more than
500 tasks last year.
Forty two personnel are currently
deployed on operations and another 25
are waiting to depart.
"Wherever Forcomd is we're there
providing that medic, nurse or doctor,"
Lt-Col Marsh says.
Most combat first aid courses, com-
bat fitness leader courses and military
self-defence training in Forcomd are also
conducted by 1CHB.
The battalion routinely has up to 40
members a day augmenting Joint Health
Command garrison health facilities across
While taking away unit control
of medics has sometimes been poorly
received, Lt-Col Marsh is confident the
changes will eventually be embraced as
the battalion continues to prove its capac-
ity to provide the required health ser-
"I anticipate people will understand
that we are able to provide a more robust
combat health system and although they
have lost some control of the asset the
effect that is provided is well trained,
equipped and fit to task."
Battalion HQ -- Sydney
8 Close Health Coy -- Darwin
Provides close and integral combat health support to 1 Bde and
wider NT and SA formations. CHC HQ is located in Darwin and 7
Combat Health Platoon is located in Adelaide.
11 Close Health Coy -- Brisbane
Provides close and integral combat health support to 7 Bde
and other Brisbane-based Forcomd units.
2 Close Health Coy -- Townsville
Provides close and integral combat health support to 3 Bde and
surrounding Townsville-based units.
Aero-medical Evacuation Pl, 2CHC
The Army's first dedicated rotary wing aeromedical evacuation capa-
bility, used on Op Cathedral and on Ex Hamel 2012. An AME team
consists of a doctor, nurse and medic all trained in critical care to
stabilise and evacuate casualties from the battlefield.
Stretching out: Personnel from 1CHB evacuate a simulated casualty during
a combined arms training activity in Townsville.
Passing on skills: LCpl Daniel Heslop, of 8CHC,
demonstrates the use of the combat application tourniquet
to stop catastrophic haemorrhage to members of Combined
Team Uruzgan 4 ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan.
Photo by AB James Whittle
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