Force protection takes a lifesaving spin

August 24, 2020 – Force protection training onboard HMAS Ballarat has taken a lifesaving spin, with the Boatswain Mates treated to a dedicated exercise on how to save themselves, and their mates, while under battle fire.

The training exercise was undertaken in preparation for Ballarat’s Unit Readiness Evaluation (URE), and later Mission Readiness Evaluation (MRE). It taught the front line crew how to maintain fire against a fast attack craft, while also rendering medical assistance to themselves and others.

Able Seaman Medic Rachel Hone, who worked with embarked clearance divers to develop the training, said it is imperative the crew have enough medical know-how to get injured personnel to trained medical professionals.

“The first thing we assess as medics is danger to ourselves, so if we need to come out into the firing line to assist someone we are putting ourselves and our medical capability in danger,” Able Seaman Hone said.

“If one of the gun crew has enough medical experience to extract an injured person to a safe area where the medics are, that could literally save the life of one of their crew members.”

During the training, participants learnt how to correctly conduct immediate lifesaving interventions, including self-buddy aid and applying a tourniquet, while also communicating effectively as a team to ensure the threat remained engaged and eventually neutralised.

The trainers, including Able Seaman Hone, said the group performed exceptionally well.

“The crew performed really well, I’m really impressed with how they did and their level of enthusiasm,” Able Seaman Hone said.

“Most of them had no medical experience but now, if they ever have to, I’m confident they’ll be able to use what they’ve learnt.”

Able Seaman Boatswain Mates Ella Demaine-Murray and Alexandria Dercksen are two of the five crew who experienced the medical-focussed training for the first time. They said the training was a major learning curve but had made them feel more confident.

“I feel much more confident after this. We get a lot of training in as it is, but this training has provided a different experience and taught us how to keep the fires going even if your mate goes down, as well as how to potentially save their life,” Able Seaman Dercksen said.

“I also learnt how to drag someone twice my size away from danger, especially being such a little person, that was a great experience to feel the adrenaline kick in and be able to do that.”

Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Alexandria Dercksen, left, and Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Ella Demaine-Murray after a force protection exercise onboard HMAS Ballarat, off the coast of Jervis Bay, ACT.
Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Alexandria Dercksen, left, and Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Ella Demaine-Murray after a force protection exercise onboard HMAS Ballarat, off the coast of Jervis Bay, ACT.

Able Seaman Demaine-Murray, who is soaking up her first sea posting, agreed that the training had given her more confidence and provided an entirely new learning opportunity.

“We come up here and do drills all the time, but this training was much more specific. For me, learning how to do the tourniquet was the most interesting as I’d never touched one before,” Able Seaman Demaine-Murray said.

“It was a really good exercise. I think it gets us even more prepared for the URE now and hopefully we can impress Green Team…fingers crossed!”

As part of the URE, Sea Training Group (colloquially known as ‘green team’ because of their green brassards) will conduct official Level Training and Assessments onboard Ballarat by administering and observing tactical situations required to achieve the final ‘Unit Ready’ certification.

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