Moving and building a hospital wherever needed

Transporting and unpacking your hospital, all its equipment and setting it up in the red dust of remote locations in the Northern Territory is not something most healthcare professionals get to experience.

For the Royal Australian Air Force’s No. 1 Expeditionary Health Squadron it is part of the job that goes alongside providing their wide-ranging health services in the field.

Wing Commander Nicole dos Santos, Commanding Officer No. 1 Expeditionary Health Squadron, said that the hospital can be moved into location in a number of ways.

“The Air Force Role 2 is an air transportable medical facility,” Wing Commander dos Santos said.

“For this exercise it was the first time that we transported it completely by C-17, moving it from Amberley to Tindal.”

The facility is located at an airhead and provides support to aerospace operations and aeromedical evacuation. The structure can be tailored to suit different environments and needs. The layout is flexible and configured according to the available area.

Wing Commander dos Santos said that one of the things that made the construction unique was the builders.

“The facility was built entirely by the medical team. This included Doctors, Nurses, Pharmacists, Radiographers, Dentists, Laboratory and Environmental Health Officers. It was a blend of our permanent and reserve personnel. We value them for their specialist skills but equally we value that they are part of an integrated healthcare team.  We recognise the strength that teamwork brings to the facility.”

Wing Commander dos Santos said that one of the firsts for deploying the hospital was the nature of the scenario at Exercise Pitch Black.

“This is the first time we have built the hospital in a semi-permissive environment,” Wing Commander dos Santos said.

“Carrying weapons and wearing body armour provided challenges that we hadn’t exercised as a team previously.”

The Role 2 hospital was set up to support the establishment of the austere airbase at Batchelor in the Northern Territory during Exercise Pitch Black.

By LEUT Harley Slatter