First-aid personnel are enhancing Victoria's public testing as part of Operation COVID-19 Assist.

Navy submariner and training instructor Petty Officer Gareth James is a member of HMAS Cerberus’ medical emergency team and was quick to volunteer to help.  

Petty Officer James is based at the symptomatic testing site at Shepparton in regional Victoria and said the operation was similar to other deployments he had been on. 

“There is a lot which is similar between Operation COVID-19 Assist and a submarine operation,” Petty Officer James said.

“The highs and lows in particular are similar and you can use the energy of the people around you. We are all in this together.”

Petty Officer James said being away from his family was hard but he was doing his best to stay in touch with them. 

“This deployment is bittersweet," he said.

"My family are used to me being away but knowing I am in Shepparton and they are so close on the Mornington Peninsula is especially hard. 

“My children are in high school and they are learning from home. I wish I could be more help.

“I am proud of how hard both my children are studying in this tough time and making the most of a hard situation.

“We are embracing technology. I watched the entire MotoGP with my son on FaceTime.”

Petty Officer James said it was important to keep his mind and body busy during this time. 

“Exercise is important and study can help.”