Working in the Melbourne State Control Centre as part of the ADF’s support of Operation COVID-19 Assist is a long way from Echunga, South Australia, where Lieutenant Ben Rainsford was born. 

Educated in the Adelaide Hills, Lieutenant Rainsford is an Army Medical Corps officer managing health care specialists in the ADF.

Lieutenant Rainsford said planning was an important part of the role he and others were playing in the State Control Centre.

“We are part of the Combined Agency Operations Group. It includes agencies like the Victorian Police Force, State Emergency Service and the, Department of Health and Human Services and the ADF,” Lieutenant Rainsford said.

“Our planning is helping the strategies for testing locations that the ADF and others are working atis supporting, as well as other mobile response teams that the state government manages and staffs.”

Lieutenant Rainsford’s particular focus is on controlling the provision of medical services.

“My role is the management of doctors, nurses and health specialists within the ADF,” he said.

“We send clinicians out to specific tasks in the field and on domestic or overseas operations.

It’s really good to see how they adapt to a situation and execute it in real life.

“We manage, make sure they’re registered and keep their administrations up to date so they can go and provide assistance.”

The team’s planning needs to factor in many logistical and staffing components to help different groups work together and deliver the desired effect that people see at the testing centres.

“What people can expect on the ground is to be directed by a traffic manager into the clinic itself,” Lieutenant Rainsford said.

“From there they are given swab tests by ADF personnel and civilians at the designated sites.” 

Planning has allowed the ADF members embedded at the SCC to experience how a state government works and learn their own lessons as part of Operation COVID-19 Assist.

“The ADF has clinicians from all around Australia who are currently working with the Department of Health and Human Services and the Victorian Government,” Lieutenant Rainsford said.

“Looking at how Emergency Management Victoria handles a situation like this gives me good exposure to a bigger-picture planning task.

“It’s really good to see how they adapt to a situation and execute it in real life.”