ADF personnel have deployed to Melbourne to assist the Department of Health and Human Services test for COVID-19 at sites across the city. 

Officer in Charge of the military contingent at Melbourne Showground Lieutenant Commander Tom Miller said the ADF was prepared.

“We’ve been training for a number of months for this in case this situation was to happen,” Lieutenant Commander Miller said.

Nasal swab testing is one of the tasks personnel are performing, which requires them to hold specific qualifications.

“We’re here to help, but ultimately my team and I are assisting with the testing and swabbing,” Lieutenant Commander Miller said.

Before starting, the ADF was given specialist Victorian government-run training to test personnel in line with state standards.

Leading Aircraftwoman Georgia Smith, a medic from No. 1 Expeditionary Health Squadron, is putting the training to good use.

“We were given personal protective equipment training to keep us as safe as possible while conducting this task,” Leading Aircraftwoman Smith said.

“We were taught how to put on gowns and in what order all the equipment should go on and be taken off. 

“This gives a barrier between ourselves and the patients we test and helps stop any transmission.”

Daily tasks include setting up to receive patients, completing documentation, conducting swabbing and preparing samples to be transported to pathology facilities.

“We register patients that come through and make sure they are documented in the system,” Leading Aircraftwoman Smith said.

“From there, if required, the patients will have a COVID-19 swab test conducted up their nose and in their throat – they then need to self-isolate at home until the results come through.”

This is not the first time Leading Aircraftwoman Smith has helped the nation on Operation COVID-19 Assist.

“This is round two in the operation for me,” Leading Aircraftwoman Smith said. 

“I went to Burnie, Tasmania, and was part of the crew setting up the emergency department and helping the community, which was rewarding.

“Being picked for this again is a highlight of my whole year.”