As a young nursing student training at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, Belinda O’Malley never imagined herself working inside a military hospital in Afghanistan - but that’s exactly where she is today.
Captain Belinda O’Malley is currently a member of the Australian Specialist Health Group based at the NATO Role 3 Medical Facility at Kandahar Air Field.
The Role 3 is the size of an Australian regional base hospital and is very well equipped for its role as a trauma hospital to treat wounded and injured soldiers.
The 54 year old from Adelaide’s Somerton Park has come along way since joining the Australian Army Reserve as a Medical Officer.
The highly qualified peri operative nurse, who specialises in anaesthetic and patient recovery, has made a few sacrifices to get where she is today.
Before Belinda could be considered qualified enough to deploy to Afghanistan, she had to resign from a management position with the South Australia Health Department in order to undertake additional medical training.
Her sacrifices paid off and Belinda now works in the NATO hospital’s operating room, where she is responsible for all patient care within the theatre environment.
“This involves the coordination and supervision of the scrub technicians, equipment and the patients within the operating room suite,” she said.
Working at a busy military hospital in Afghanistan has certainly left an impression on Belinda.
“The standout memories have been during the mass casualty situations which have occurred during my time here,” she said.
“The patients are quite disciplined and very cooperative, when it comes to trusting us with their care.
“However, their first thoughts are always of their mates and how they are, rather than what wounds or injuries they have sustained.”
Despite the busy work tempo Belinda’s thoughts sometime turn to her home in Somerton Park.
“It is a quiet and peaceful city with beautiful beaches and wineries, plus it is where most of my children live,” she said.
“I also have great memories of growing up on a sheep station, my time at the Wilderness College Boarding School and my training at Royal Adelaide Hospital.”
As her time in Afghanistan draws to a close, Belinda is planning a family reunion with her children and her pets.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing my three children, as we are all very close and being reunited with my cats,” she said.
For her service in Afghanistan Belinda will be presented with the Australian Active Service Medal, The Afghanistan Campaign Medal and the NATO Medal.
Following some much needed down time, Belinda will return to ASEPS, a specialist nursing agency, which will see her continue to work in hospitals in Adelaide.