Advance Medical Assistant, Corporal Megan MacAuslan, from No. 2 Expeditionary Health Squadron at RAAF Base Williamtown, is the medical specialist working alongside the US and Japan in support of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) activities for Cope North 20.

The multilateral field training exercise involving the United States Air Force (USAF), Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), and the Royal Australian Air Force improves combat readiness, increases interoperability and enhances relationships with partner nations in the region.

The CN20 HADR phase focused on the establishment of an airhead, from which medical support can be established and humanitarian aid could be distributed.

“For this HADR scenario, our trilateral medical team are in position to sustain up to 30 personnel for 14 days without resupply from air operations,” Corporal MacAuslan said.

“More specifically, my role is part of the “white force” for sick parade and provides medical support to the Air Point of Disembarkation Base near Baker Airfield.”

The medical posture was originally part of a larger Role 1 Contingent, however due to the scale down as a result of ongoing Operation Bushfire Assist in Australia, she is working alongside her international counterparts with a smaller Remote Locality Kit on Tinian.

“I’m lucky enough to be working with a JASDF doctor, First Lieutenant Okudera, and USAF Nurse, Major Parker, as well as Captain Craig and Tech Sergeant Munoz who form the Aeromedical Evacuation Liaison Team,” she said.

“Together we have the ability to assess patients, liaise with the doctor for her expertise and the medical evac team can communicate with home base to transfer the patient back to Guam if required.”

Corporal MacAuslan has been supporting several elements of the HADR component of the exercise from Security Forces to 381 Squadron and 4 Squadron Combat Control Team teams.

During the HADR component of the exercise, there are several real-time scenarios that are role played to ensure that the team meets all the training objectives.

“We did two yesterday, one in real time and one was exercise,” Corporal MacAuslan said.

“We were sitting in our tent when someone screamed medic! The team ran to the Vehicle Check Point at the entrance to the base, set up for the exercise only, and saw a young man slumped over with pain.

“After moving him back to the tent, we did a full assessment to discover he could potentially have appendicitis and would need to be evacuated for surgical review.

“Once Doctor Okudera and I did the initial assessment, we handed over to the USAF team to organise a medical evacuation on the USAF C-130 back to Guam.

“If his appendix burst at location, we wouldn’t have the ability to deal with his medical requirements.”

Corporal MacAuslan reports any medical incidents and notice of casualties to the Operations Officer who then reports back through the HADR chain of command channels.

“The highlight of this exercise is working with my international counterparts, I’ve loved learning Japanese and how well our medical procedures and processes integrate,” she said.

“Our international medical specialists have very specific areas of responsibility so they can really focus on their job, but as a smaller force, we have about six different jobs to facilitate.

“Even though we don’t have more medical people on the ground this exercise, I really appreciate having our partner nations here so we can bring all the areas of expertise together.

“We are learning so much from each other, we are a true trilateral capability.”

After 12 years working as a medic, she still thoroughly enjoys the diversity and challenge of the role.

Due to the continual demand for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief support in the Pacific Region, these 'joint' exercises are increasingly important in understanding complementary capabilities of participating nations.

The relationships built and sustained with multinational partners in the Indo-Pacific region through exercises, civil military operations and military exchanges help tremendously in humanitarian efforts and in preserving peace and stability in the region. 

Video of Exercise Cope North is available here.