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4 Op Padang Assist
AIR FORCE October 15, 2009
now on tap
By LSIS Paul McCallum
MEDICAL assistance is on the
ground in Padang with the arrival
of a Primary Health Care Team
(PHCT) and forward element
from 1 Health Support Battalion
The 1HSB advance team is made
up of 22 specialist medical staff,
a field hospital with stores for self
sustainment and basic medical aid.
Commander Joint Task Force
629 LTCOL Neil Sweeney said the
arrival was part of the government's
graduated and measured response to
the disaster relief effort.
"As a co-ordinated response
with AusAid and Department of
Foreign Affairs and Trade, the team
will conduct some site assessments
initially to determine where the
Primary Health Care Team will be
most effective," LTCOL Sweeney
"This is the first push from
1HSB with the remainder of the
field hospital element waiting in
Darwin on short notice, ready to be
called forward if required."
Once established, the field hos-
pital will be able to provide general
medical services as well as surgical
procedures 24 hours a day, seven
days a week, including orthopaedic
surgery. Other functions of the hos-
pital include a nursing unit, radiol-
ogy, pathology and a psychological
Medical assessment element
commander SQNLDR Collette
Richards said there is always a need
for large-scale medical facilities in
situations like these. While the city
of Padang is coping with the local
medical needs, outlying centres may
be in need of assistance.
"A field hospital facility would
provide a much-needed medical
service to the people of the outlying
regions who have been hit hard by
the earthquake and subsequent land
slides," she said.
If the complete hospital capa-
bility begins operations, up to 80
personnel will be providing medical
aid to the local population.
As the initial medical and engi-
neering assessment becomes more
refined, one of the main needs is the
provision of water purification.
Water purification plants were
flown into Padang by the Air Force
on October 5 to provide drinking
water to as many people as possible.
The plants were operational the next
"While the purification plants
are relatively small, they have a very
large output which will go towards
providing clean drinking water for
the approximate 75,000 in need,"
LTCOL Sweeney said.
"These people have access to
water at the moment; the issue is
making the water clean and safe."
The deployment of the purifica-
tion plants was co-ordinated through
Australian government agencies in
consultation with the Indonesian
"The TNI (Indonesian armed
forces) have been fantastic; any
movement of stores and person-
nel that we need is being provid-
ed by the Indonesian army. They
have been instrumental in making
a number of things happen for us,"
LTCOL Sweeney said.
ON THE GROUND: Above,
medical officer SQNLDR Collette
Richards (left) and Army linguist
LT Elly Poyntz talk with a local
doctor during an assessment of
the Central Provincial Hospital in
Padang. Photo: CPL Guy Young
ALL ABOARD: Below, RAAF
health assessment personnel
and Army engineers board a
37SQN C-130 at RAAF Base
Darwin bound for Indonesia.
Photo: LSIS Helen Frank
WATER WORKS: Army's CAPT Mick Thompson and LT Elly Poyntz talk with a local hospital engineer
about damage sustained to water pipes outside the Central Provincial Hospital in Padang. In the
background, WOFF Edward Tuyl from 396ECSW takes notes while reservist environmental health officer
FLTLT Paul Clancy prepares to photograph the scene.
Photo: CPL Guy Young
REPAIRING LIVES: Above, three young
Indonesian girls watch as ADF personnel
construct a deployable Primary Health Care
Facility in their village, Sungai Geringging,
75 kilometres northwest of Padang.
Photo: CPL Guy Young
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