Medics graduate a year after earthquake delay

21 February 2012

Fifty-seven young medics recently graduated at Burnham Camp from the first ever AUT Diploma of Paramedic Science and Graduate Diploma of Health Science with the Defence Force Health School (DHS).

Professor Max Abbott, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean, Faculty of Health & Environmental Science with Private Ryan George (20120214_WB_N1026341_0064).
Professor Max Abbott, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean, Faculty of Health & Environmental Science with Private Ryan George (20120214_WB_N1026341_0064).

The graduands proudly walked out in front of friends and family, Senior Defence Force Officers and veterans of Defence Force health services at the completion of the first qualification in their two and half year medic course.

Graduates hail from all over the country and are drawn from all three services; Army, Navy and Air Force.

Chief Instructor of DHS (NZ) Major Brendan Wood notes that, "This graduation was meant to occur in February last year; however when the earthquake hit, staff and students were engaged in support activities and were working alongside emergency services so the 2011 ceremony was cancelled."

The new programme came into fruition in January 2010 and is now fully integrated into the Defence training regime

This is the only training programme of its kind in the world and prepares our medics for operations at a world class level

"The training provides the Defence Force with medics who hold both appropriate academic qualifications as well as meeting an equivalent standard to civilian sector," says Major Wood.

Award winners from the ceremony from each class were:
Overall academic prize: AC Alex Taylor, AMA Gracie Price, AC Jessica Earnshaw
Peers Choice Award: AC Danny Freestone, AMA Matthew Pirini, AC Jessica Earnshaw
Top Student Award: Pte Jamie Corbishley, Pte Joshua Boon, AC Jessica Earnshaw

Defence medics come to the rescue

Two of the young Defence personnel who were part of the graduation have been commended for their actions following a serious motor accident just south of Waiouru.

Burnham-based medic Private Zachary Conchie and AC Juliette De Vries from the RNZAF had attended the march out parade of the All Arms recruit Course and were returning home on State Highway One south of Hunterville when they encountered a crashed vehicle.

A station-wagon had left the road, clipped a power pole, gone through a fence, and rolled down a slope. It had come to a rest on its wheels, in a farm paddock.

There were three casualties; two walking with light-moderate injuries, and a woman who was trapped and unconscious inside the vehicle. There were about four civilians attempting to give aid, but there was confusion.

Still in their Service Dress uniforms, both medics immediately began first aid on the trapped woman, conducting a primary survey and controlling her bleeding. They also kept her airway clear. The woman had an existing cardio-vascular condition, further complicating treatment. Some minutes after their arrival, the patient regained consciousness, although she had sustained a head injury.

After about 20 minutes, a unit of volunteer fire-fighters arrived. Until this point, the medics and De Vries had been treating the woman using improvised dressings and bandages. With the arrival of further emergency services, both PTE Conchie and AC De Vries remained in charge of the casualty. An off-duty nurse and an off-duty paramedic treated the other, lesser, casualties.

An emergency helicopter arrived to transport the injured to hospital.

A witness to the accident told Army News the two medics stayed with their casualties, working with the attending fire-fighters. "I believe that their calm and efficient conduct that day reinforced the image of the NZDF within the community, and their actions at the scene most likely improved the chances of survival for the trapped woman. Their presence, in uniform, also calmed the civilians involved. The emergency services attending had enough confidence in these two that they remained in control of their casualty after the arrival of fire-service paramedics. They certainly displayed the values the NZDF stands for."

This page was last reviewed on 21 February 2012.