Relishing role as a first responder

Department of Defence

As a young girl, Corporal Lauren Sankey always imagined herself working as a nurse or a paramedic, so when the ADF ran a career day at her high school offering a chance to do both, it seemed an obvious choice to enlist in the Army as a medical technician.

With no military background, Corporal Sankey wasn’t afraid to leave her home town of Hervey Bay to work in a specialised, high paced environment, seeking opportunities she wouldn’t otherwise get outside of the Defence Force.

“Medics go through such diverse and rigorous training, and all for the right reasons,” Corporal Sankey said.

“We graduate our training knowing we have the potential to enter into a conflict zone, operating by ourselves with limited resources, support and evacuation to higher acuity care – because of this we need to be confident working under pressure.”

Corporal Sankey works in the 2nd Health Battalion at Enoggera Barracks in a diverse and ever-changing role.

Outside of deploying with the hospital into the field environment, she operates as an integral medic, delivering clinical care to patients at the health centre, and conducts secondments with the Queensland Ambulance Service and hospitals to keep up her clinical skills.

“It’s amazing how much we continue to learn from the paramedics during our time on road. They see such a different cohort of patients to what we do in Defence, often sicker, so we get more opportunities where we are guided through, and practise our complex skills,” she said.

This different level of clinical care provides Corporal Sankey with a degree of confidence and skillset she can pass back to her unit.

‘The adrenaline rush of being the first person on scene to help never gets old.’

She completed her Enrolled Nursing and Diploma of Paramedical Science through the Wodonga Institute of TAFE while receiving extended upskilling in military nursing along the way.

“I’m grateful for all clinical exposure that I’ve had in my short career. The adrenaline rush of being the first person on scene to help never gets old,” she said.

“As a first responder, I get the chance to make such a big difference on my patient’s outcomes and I find it rewarding reassuring someone they’re in safe hands.”

Corporal Sankey has deployed to various developing countries in her career and said every task was an eye-opener into the different living conditions and their medical system.

“It’s not until you go overseas and work in developing nations that you realise how lucky we are in Australia for the resources and training we have,” she said.

While deployed on Exercise Viper Walk, Corporal Sankey enjoyed seeing how the land-based trauma system was used right from the point-of-injury-care through to aeromedical evacuating a patient.

“This is the first training exercise where any health battalion has employed the full land-based trauma system. It really highlighted to us all the different types of care a patient receives, from the moment they’re injured, up until they’re evacuated out to go home,” she said.

“Exercise Viper Walk gave us medics the opportunity to see the process of the system for ourselves and see where we fit into the different health elements.

“It’s also showed the team what we are good at, where we need to improve, and the procedures needed to get our patients home at the end of the day.”

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