Hailing from Pearce, Darwin, Tindal, Edinburgh and Williamtown, they collectively travelled more than 10,000km to get to South Australia's Kangaroo Island.
Some have worked together before while others just met for the first time, but this Primary Healthcare Team from No. 2 Expeditionary Health Squadron (2EHS) and their two No. 3 Security Forces Squadron Airfield Defence Guards have quickly established the kind of bonds that last a lifetime.
“A few of us knew each other from previous postings, exercises and deployments but some of the team had never met,” Flight Lieutenant Rebecca Elfes said.
“It’s nice bringing people back together as well as meeting and working with new people.
“We all bonded quickly, getting to know each other as we were planning and moving at short notice.”
Flight Lieutenant Elfes is the Officer in Charge of the 2EHS Primary Healthcare Team operating in support of the ADF’s Operation Bushfire Assist activities on Kangaroo Island.
With more than half of the island feared to have been scorched by the bushfires, the ADF have been clearing burnt and fallen trees, providing engineering support, assisting with injured wildlife care and conducting wildlife and stock burials to help get the island on the road to recovery.
The Primary Healthcare Team have integrated with the Army-led Role 1 Health facility to provide on-site and remote health support to varying tasks.
The Airfield Defence Guards embedded within the Primary Healthcare Team have enhanced the team’s mobility support.
“We are carrying an augmented remote locality kit that can be transported with our team in a Protected Mobility Vehicle operated by our Airfield Defence Guards.” Flight Lieutenant Elfes said.
“If needed, we can travel into areas at risk of falling trees or debris.”
While Flight Lieutenant Elfes and her team have primarily been treating ADF members, they’ve also been able to support civilian health providers when required.
“St John’s health providers are supporting civilian agencies on the ground,” Flight Lieutenant Elfes said.
“We have been able to assist St John’s with Medical Officer support as required.”
Reflecting on her team’s role in Operation Bushfire Assist, Flight Lieutenant Elfes says “everyone is proud and thankful to assist despite ever changing tasks requiring adaptable health support.”
“We’ve all had to adjust to the changing nature of the environment on Kangaroo Island.”
“We constantly reassess our requirements and adapt to support ADF capability, and the Kangaroo Island community,” Flight Lieutenant Elfes said.
“We’re all from different places workwise, but everyone has been flexible and integrated extremely well.
“It has been an excellent opportunity for our team to understand each other’s roles and contribute to tasks that aren’t part of our daily norm.
“We’re all happy to be here, helping out where we can and doing what we train to do. We’ll remember this.”