Elite skill an ace up sleeve of sol­diers

Western Times - - NEWS - KRISTIN SHORTEN

TO the spe­cial forces they de­ploy with, a Voodoo Medic is a “trump card” on the bat­tle­field. Their elite train­ing is “a guar­an­tee that we’re able to deal with any sit­u­a­tion,” said Bram Con­nolly, a for­mer pla­toon com­man­der and vet­eran of sev­eral Afghan tours. “If you’re shot in Afghanistan there’s a higher like­li­hood that you will sur­vive that than if you were shot in the streets here in Syd­ney.” For Ma­jor Con­nolly, the proof came when his forces were out­num­bered and out­gunned at the bat­tle of Za­bat Kalay on Oc­to­ber 18, 2010. When sev­eral sol­diers went down in the first min­utes, in­clud­ing one that had been shot and an­other scalped by shrap­nel, Cor­po­ral Tom Newkirk went to work. “I guess it’s a trau­matic event hav­ing to treat some­body whilst get­ting shot at, but we train so hard and long that when it hap­pens you’re very well pre­pared,” he said. Spe­cial forces medics com­plete 18 months of ini­tial train­ing be­fore un­der­go­ing in­ten­sive tac­ti­cal medicine train­ing. When they’re posted to spe­cial forces, their skills are tur­bocharged with train­ing in ad­vanced sur­gi­cal pro­ce­dures and phar­ma­col­ogy. They also train to per­form land, water and air res­cues in bat­tle­field con­di­tions. By the time they are done they are like a para­medic and GP rolled into one.

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