Flight Lieutenant Kimberley Macdonald, a nurse from No. 3 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, is helping Papua New Guinea cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

After weeks of quarantine, Flight Lieutenant Macdonald and three of her colleagues arrived in Port Moresby on May 11. 

“This is my first time in Papua New Guinea so I’m excited to see the country, meet people, experience the culture and try the food. But in the meantime, I’ll be using my experience and skills to provide advice and support on best practice with regard to health,” Flight Lieutenant Macdonald said. 

As a health adviser, Flight Lieutenant Macdonald is making a difference but couldn’t have predicted the path she is now on.  

Like many school graduates, Flight Lieutenant Macdonald didn’t have her heart set on a career path and wasn’t ready to commit to further study. 

Born and raised on the Mornington Peninsula, south-east of Melbourne, Flight Lieutenant Macdonald said it wasn’t until she travelled to America during a gap year that her passion for first responder health support was ignited. 

“While working as a water skiing instructor at an all-girls summer camp, I completed an American Red Cross Lifeguard Certificate that included first aid in an emergency response environment, and that’s where my journey began,” Flight Lieutenant Macdonald said. 

Returning home, she undertook a Bachelor of Nursing at Monash University.

I’d always had an interest in aircraft, so I applied to join the Air Force in 2015.

During her studies, Flight Lieutenant Macdonald travelled to Kenya, Africa, to volunteer as a student nurse.

“That’s where I started thinking about the humanitarian aid space and wondered how I could do that type of work for a living,” Flight Lieutenant Macdonald said.

After graduating, she worked as a theatre recovery nurse at Frankston Hospital and in day surgery at The Bays Hospital in Mornington, Victoria. 

With two years of nursing experience under her belt, Flight Lieutenant Macdonald started researching nursing careers in the ADF.

“I’d always had an interest in aircraft, so I applied to join the Air Force in 2015.”

Five years later, Flight Lieutenant Macdonald’s experiences as a nurse in the Air Force have included remote nursing, international exercises and the repatriation of Australians injured during the White Island volcanic eruption in New Zealand in December 2019. 

The Officer in Charge of one of the repatriation missions, Flight Lieutenant Macdonald said the chance to help out fellow Australians who were critically injured was humbling.

“It was a 24-hour mission so fatigue was a real factor, however, it was fantastic to see everyone work together to airlift the patients and hand them over to the NSW Ambulance Service for transfer to hospital,” she said.