Elite skill an ace up sleeve of soldiers
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.