5 August 2013
Growing up near the Air Force’s main training base, Blenheim local Jess Earnshaw saw first hand the relationship between the Air Force, sport and learning opportunities and wanted to be a part of it.
Now an Aircraftman (AC) in the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF), Jess has been posted to Burnham for the last two and a half years and has just graduated with a Graduate Diploma in Health Sciences (Paramedic).
The graduate diploma is a civilian university programme from Auckland University of Technology but conducted by the Defence Health School on Defence Force establishments.
AC Earnshaw says one of the highlights of the course has been the integration between civilian and military health services.
"Getting to work on with ambulance crews from St John is a great experience, putting into practice the skills we learn in the classroom on real people that we can help is awesome."
Chief instructor of the Defence Health School, Major (MAJ) Brendan Wood says the course is world class.
"The medic trade has been through a lot of changes in recent times, a lot of work has gone into bringing the NZ Defence Force medic trade to deliver first world health care.
"The training we provide covers knowledge of the medic functions, and includes all topics studied by civilian paramedics as well as topics specific for use within the New Zealand Defence Force.
"Students can come in with no medical experience and in two and a half years graduate with a qualification that is recognised not just in civilian life, but around the world as the benchmark for medic training," says MAJ Wood.
AC Earnshaw says the hardest part about the course is saying goodbye to everyone at the end.
"The people we study with are the people we live with and hangout with come from all three services. We’ve been through all the highs and lows together and it’s going to be hard to say goodbye, but I have made friends in all three services that I will keep for life."
After training AC Earnshaw will move up to RNZAF Base Ohakea, near Palmerston North, where she will continue to her training in more specialised areas. At Ohakea the RNZAF medics cover the flying operations of the Air Force’s tactical helicopter force.
To other people from Marlborough who are thinking about joining the RNZAF, AC Earnshaw says, "if you love fitness, sport and challenging yourself then give it a go.
"I’ve made great friends, and work in a great environment with awesome people. You get to learn great life skills while continually learning your trade and I am looking to the opportunity to travel the world with the Air Force."
For more information, contact Todd O’Hara, Defence Communications Group on 021 626 578.