A land-loving Army officer from Townsville is finding his sea legs while on board an Armidale Class Patrol Boat in Australia’s northern waters this Christmas.
Major Michael Jones is one of about 500 Australian Defence Force personnel deployed this Christmas on Operation Resolute, the ADF’s contribution to Australia’s whole of government border security effort.
These include Navy, Army and Air Force personnel conducting air, land and sea surveillance and response for approximately 10 per cent of the world’s surface, 365 days a year.
Michael, 36, is posted to Ashmore Islands for three months where he’ll work alongside a linguist specialist to provide medical assistance when required.
“I’ve been studying for everything from paediatrics to obstetrics. There could be any kind of medical attention needed and I’m the only doctor on hand to provide that attention in an emergency,” Michael said.
“It’s my aim to provide the best possible care that I can to stabilise the patient before moving them to a facility where they will get further treatment.
“It’s a different situation to a normal practice because instead of being told by a person what their problems are, with the language barrier present you need to be looking for their symptoms.
“You can’t get much broader scope than in an operational environment like this one.”
Michael joined the Australian Defence Force and completed his medical degree through the Army’s scholarship scheme which included two years working as a doctor at the Townsville Hospital.
Since enlisting, the Queenslander deployed to East Timor in 2012 on a mission where he was able to provide medical assistance.
“I’m really happy with my choice to join the Army and do the scholarship.
“I’ve been able to experience a wide variety of situations and learn a lot that I can take back into my medical research.”
This deployment will be Michael’s first time to sea on board a Navy warship and he said it’s an adventure he is looking forward to both on a personal and medical level.
“I’ll be living in an environment for a few months that’s more unique and challenging to what I’m used to,” Michael said.
Trying his best not to miss out on the spirit of Christmas with his children, Michael arranged an early celebration with his family before leaving on deployment, while his sister Debbie gave him an elf hat to wear at sea during Christmas time.
The patrol boats and their crew of 21 provide surveillance and response to counter eight distinct maritime threats including; terrorism, people smuggling, illegal fishing, prohibited imports and exports, quarantine risks, pollution, piracy and other illegal activities.