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Kimberley Rigo - Coast woman applies skills in Afghanistan

THE Gold Coast’s Kimberley Rigo has capped almost a decade of medical and surgical training with work in a different kind of theatre – Afghanistan.

Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Rigo, a former Saint Stephens College - Coomera student, is deployed with the Royal Australian Air Force as the Australian Defence Force’s medical officer at Camp Baker, Afghanistan as part of Operation SLIPPER.

The 29-year-old Griffith University Gold Coast and University of Queensland graduate works at Kandahar Air Field as the Aeromedical Evacuation Operations Officer with Force Support Unit-9 along with a nurse and two highly- trained Army medics.

"The role can be challenging due to the austere environment in which many of the soldiers operate but there is a very robust health facility and highly-specialised Coalition medical staff here at Kandahar Air Field," she said.

"I am responsible for planning and co-ordinating any aeromedical evacuations (AME) which may arise within southern Afghanistan and I am also the doctor on-hand at the base for Australian personnel."

"An AME may involve transferring a soldier to a location outside of theatre for medical investigations, specialist review or it can also involve coordinating and planning the movement of battlefield casualties who may be very seriously injured or ill."

FLTLT Rigo joined the Air Force as part of the Graduate Medical Scheme during her first year of medical school at the University of Queensland.

"Prior to that I completed a Biomedical Science degree at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, at which time I did casual work as a retail assistant at a newsagent store in Runaway Bay (Runaway Town News)."

"I also completed two years of post-graduate training at the Mater Hospital in Brisbane prior to putting on my RAAF uniform and working on base."

Kimberley is most looking forward to returning home to restart her life with her husband Omar, an Air Force pilot, and their Labrador Piper at their home in western Sydney.

"I can’t wait to share a good bottle of red wine and cook a meal for Omar - how I miss home cooked food and our beautiful dog!

"I am also looking forward to seeing my mum (Leonie Bond), two sisters (Ashleigh and Erin) and gorgeous nine-month-old nephew Harrison. I miss my family a lot when I am away, so seeing them again after six months is going to be fantastic."

Following the completion of Australia’s mission in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province last year, Australia’s efforts in Afghanistan have shifted to a nationally-orientated mission, providing training and advisory support to the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF).

About 400 ADF personnel will continue to work in Afghanistan in 2014 through training and advising the ANSF in both Kabul and Kandahar.