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RAAF doctor rises to the challenge

For Flight Lieutenant Matthew Jones, the biggest challenge working in a military hospital in Afghanistan is not knowing what will come through the door next.

The Royal Australian Air Force doctor is deployed to the medical facility within the military base at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul.

“The same challenge exists in Australia but it feels like the breadth of possible presentations is wider here due to where we are and what is going on around us,” Flight Lieutenant Jones said.

“We had an event a couple of weeks after I arrived. The patient allocated to our trauma bay was a casualty of a blast. The case itself was serious, but it was also very interesting to see how well the hospital, staffed by health professionals from all over the world, responded.”

The US-led NATO hospital provides the coalition military base at Kabul Airport with a range of services – including routine and primary care, life-saving emergency resuscitation, a blood bank, trauma surgery and dental treatment.

“I may be biased but the Australians here in the facility have excellent skills and integrate well within the facility.”

The Australian Defence Force deploys medics, nurses, doctors, a scientific officer and a dental team to the hospital.

They work alongside highly skilled health professionals from nine other nations, including Albania, Azerbaijan, Denmark, Norway, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Germany, Portugal and the US.

Flight Lieutenant Jones said the Australian contingent is well-prepared and highly regarded.

The depth of knowledge across the coalition staff also gave the Australians ample opportunity to learn.

“I may be biased but the Australians here in the facility have excellent skills and integrate well within the facility,” he said.

“I really enjoy working in the multinational environment. It’s nice to interact with co-workers from other nations, and, of course, we are providing health care to patients from many different nationalities and backgrounds.

“We are also lucky to have US Army medical specialists within the facility who are willing to provide education and training in areas beyond the typical colds and flus.

“This has allowed me to increase my knowledge in some areas of emergency medicine, anaesthetics and orthopaedics.”

Flight Lieutenant Jones said the Australian troops deployed on Operation Highroad were doing a great job and achieving their mission.

“The Australian personnel are doing excellent work and are maintaining our country’s high standing in the eyes of the host nation and coalition partners. Australians at home can be proud of the commitment and professionalism exhibited daily by their ADF  personnel,” he said.

Operation Highroad is the Australian contribution to the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan.

Australia contributes about 300 Defence personnel to help Afghanistan develop its own security forces.

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