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Nurse turns combat medic

Friday, 20th June, 2014

Local nurse and Army Reservist, Kristie Connell, at a challenging training program earlier this month. Local nurse and Army Reservist, Kristie Connell, at a challenging training program earlier this month.

Local nurse and Army Reservist, Kristie Connell, recently spent nine gruelling days at a major Australian Army training program.

Earlier this month, the 37-year-old took nine days out from her job at the Broken Hill Hospital to spend it on the wet, winter plains of the Cultana Training Area in South Australia. 

As a combat medic at the Broken Hill depot of the Army, her role was to provide first-hand medical support to soldiers participating in a major training exercise. 

On day seven, she arranged “CASEVAC” for six soldiers, which meant that they were treated and evacuated as casualties as part of the exercise.

For Lance Corporal Connell it meant working through the night and learning new skills that she could bring back to her day job.

“I work in intensive care at Broken Hill Hospital, so I’m used to working with very sick people,” she said.

“As an Army Medic out on exercise I learn about other health issues. Some of them are preventable, such as dehydration.

“It gives me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of preventative medicine.”

Called ‘Exercise Amiens’, the nine-day activity was a major training exercise for the Broken Hill depot and its “sister” units in South Australia and Tasmania.      

With eighteen years’ service in the Army Reserve, Lance Corporal Connell said she was grateful to her employer for giving her the opportunity to take part. 

“I really enjoy the opportunity to go away on exercise once or twice a year,” she said. 

“My aim is to support the soldiers so they can stay out in the field for longer. It’s an important capability that medics and nurses provide, throughout the Australian Army.”

A number of Lance Corporal Connell’s reservist mates have served on operations overseas, with deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, East Timor or the Solomon Islands. 

Although she hasn’t been deployed herself, Lance Corporal Connell says she receives high quality training that she uses on military exercises and as a nurse, back home. 

“I definitely enjoy the camaraderie, the mateship and the teamwork,” she said.

“Being part of the Broken Hill depot has provided me with the opportunity to learn life-changing skills that have also helped in my civilian life.”

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