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First Aid
Medical Team deploys to Iraq

By Graham Davis

Medical Team departs
(MPEG video 1.85 MB)

AVM Geoff Shepherd chats to FLTLT
Lynette Howell before her deployment.

AVM Geoff Shepherd chats to FLTLT Lynette Howell before her deployment.

Photo by AB Brenton Freind

AIR FORCE medical personnel will help save lives and care for the critically ill at a US military hospital near Baghdad.

They are part of the fi rst Australian medical team to go to Iraq. The contingent is made up of nine members of Air Force, seven from Army and four from Navy.

It includes a surgeon, an emergency physician, intensive care specialists, nurses and medics. Eleven of the 20 were formally farewelled at Randwick Barracks in Sydney on September 9. An advance party of the other nine personnel left the week before.

Many of the medical team are Reservists, such as Flight Lieutenant Lynette Howell who just four days before the farewell was caring for critically ill people at the Ashford Private Hospital at Keswick, Adelaide.

FLTLT Howell, who has been a Reservist for fi ve years, is a highly skilled nurse serving in intensive care, coronary care and emergency wards.

The Baghdad deployment will not be her fi rst as she had also served in East Timor. Another team member who saw service in East Timor is Warrant Of- fi cer Ian Swney, a senior medic at RAAF Base Richmond.

Like his colleagues, he looked forward to the opportunity to help those in need of medical treatment at the military hospital.

Colonel Jeffrey Rosenfeld, a Reservist and a neurosurgeon at Alfred Hospital in Melbourne, said the medical personnel were likely to encounter major trauma injuries ranging from the effects of blasts to wounds from bullets or shrapnel.

He said the knowledge the team received could be imparted later to younger members of ADF health.

Among those to attend the farewell were Air Commander Australia Air Vice-Marshal Geoffrey Shepherd, Land Command Chief of Staff Brigadier Brian Dawson, Defence Minister Robert Hill and Labor MP Roger Price.

AVM Shepherd commended the team for their service and praised the fl exibility of the ADF. Senator Hill said the task in Iraq “continues to be a complicated one ... but there are many positives”.

Medical aid goes to Iraq

LT Gary Steer and WOFF Ian Swney, who are members of the ADF medical team deploying
to Iraq, talk to Defence Minister Robert Hill and Roger Price.

LT Gary Steer and WOFF Ian Swney, who are members of the ADF medical team deploying to Iraq, talk to Defence Minister Robert Hill and Roger Price.

Photo by AB Brenton Freind

“Health services are substantially improved from what they were before the war,” Senator Hill said.

“Iraqi National Airline is now fl ying. It has one 737 and four 767s are coming. Baghdad International Airport is now a civilian airport.”

He said an independent electoral commission had been trained and that national elections would be held in January.

Mr Price, deputising for Labor Defence Shadow Minister Kim Beazley, told the medical team they went “with the appreciation of the Parliament and the people”. “Your role in not in question. It is above politics,” Mr Price said.

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