Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 5 2010 Contents 26 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
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Thirty-nine Vietnamese nurses sit in a conference room at the Binh Dinh hospital in
Quy Nhon as Lieutenant Deirdre Smith from the Royal Australian Navy gets dressed
into operating theatre scrubs and begins a presentation on hand-washing.
The Vietnamese nurses ask a plethora of questions
and LEUT Smith expertly shares her knowledge of
hand-washing procedures, management of needles
and sterilisation with them. Flight Lieutenant
Danny O’Neill, an Air Force Nursing Officer,
shared a similar experience during his spinal care
exchange meetings with Vietnamese nurses.
Both nurses are onboard USNS Mercy as part
of Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10), a US-led
humanitarian assistance mission in South East
Asia and Oceania. Visiting five nations on this
year’s mission, approximately 70 ADF personnel
will assist the 900-strong PP10 team in the
provision of medical and dental clinics and
Working with US military, partner nations and
non-government organisations, Australian medical
and engineering personnel are also assisting host
nation personnel to enhance services provided to
the local people.
A big part of this enhancement is the subject
matter expert exchange program, co-ordinated by
a team of three personnel in the education and
training department onboard USNS Mercy. Over
the course of Mercy’s visit to each of the five host
nations, health and veterinary personnel meet with
their local counterparts to exchange information on
As part of the Subject Matter Expert Exchange
(SMEE) program, the host nation requests topics
and PP10 medical co-ordinators are able to ensure
the required subject matter experts are onboard.
The benefits for PP10 team members are two-
fold, said SMEE coordinator Commander Laurie
Gentene, United States Navy.
“The benefits of the SMEE program is that we
all learn from each other and build a relationship
with the people involved,” CMDR Gentene said.
In Vietnam, Australian and Vietnamese health
personnel exchanged information on spinal care,
infection control, operating theatre personnel
management and sterilisation. The exchange
enabled Vietnamese and partner nation nurses to
benchmark their operating procedures, techniques
“Building relationships is the first step in an
on-going communication. We can continue to
exchange information long after we leave.
“Once we have bench-marked the education,
training and resources in the host nations we are
able to increase the complexity of the topics at the
next Pacific Partnership visit,” CMDR Gentene said.
“The activity was really worthwhile, particularly
discussions regarding vaccinations, safety needles
and sterilisation. I have exchanged emails and I am
looking forward to continuing the exchange,” LEUT
The exchange of information has also occurred
onboard Mercy between partner nations with FLTLT
O’Neill conducting numerous in-service training
sessions for the hospital corpsmen and nurses
of the US Navy as well as other nation militaries
including Canada and France.
“This is such a great opportunity to discuss
different practices between all our nations.
By learning from each other we are growing
professionally and enhancing our teamwork,”
FLTLT O’Neill said.
With a number of non-government organisations
and partner military health personnel providing
health care to thousands of patients in each host
nation, teamwork is essential.
By LEUT Kara Wansbury
Pacific Partnership 2010 seeks to build on the
relationships established in previous Pacific
Partnership missions to deliver a variety of
medical, dental, engineering, and veterinary
projects in South East Asia and Oceania.
The mission will be conducted from May to
September 2010, visiting each host nation for
a number of weeks.
Pacific Partnership is scheduled to visit
Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, East Timor and
Papua New Guinea. Specific locations within
each country will be announced prior to arrival
at that country.
› Three phases of 12 Australian Army Combat
Engineers from 2nd Combat Engineer
Regiment based in Brisbane
› Approximately 50 medical and dental
personnel in three phases from all three
› Heavy Landing Craft based at Cairns, HMA
Ships Labuan, and Tarakan
› ADF Contingent Commander
› ADF Public Affairs team made up of a Public
Affairs Officer and photographer.
This year’s mission will be conducted
from USNS Mercy.
The Pacific Partnership team will work
with host nations on public health and
preventive medicine, veterinary care,
optometry and ophthalmology, dental, adult
and paediatric medicine, medical subject
matter expert exchange, immunizations,
nutritional counselling, biomedical repair
and medical environmental assessments.
As requested by each host nation, Pacific
Partnership engineers will provide focused
humanitarian civic assistance to include
school and medical clinic repairs, water
catchment system improvements and in
Cambodia the establishment of three fresh
water wells. Additionally, the engineering
team will provide support to the medical
and dental healthcare providers.
1 Flight Lieutenant Danny O’Neill with United States Navy Hospital Corpsmen Daniel Deveau (left)
and Sandy Hernandez in the casualty reception, where they provided special care to Vietnamese
patients at anchor off Quy Nhon during Pacific Partnership 2010.
2 Lance Corporal Jason Walker from the Second Combat Engineer Regiment cleans the paint gun
with a Vietnamese local at the Hope Centre in Quy Nhon, Vietnam.
3 Lieutenant Rebecca Pollkehn reassures 37-year-old patient Huyn Buhn in the recovery ward of
United States Naval Ship (USNS) Mercy, following her surgery.
4 United States Navy Ship Mercy (USNS) at anchor off Vietnam, during Pacific Partnership 2010.
5 Lieutenant Dierdre Smith, Nursing Officer from the Royal Australian Navy, briefs Vietnamese
nurses from the Binh Dinh District Hospital in the operating theatre of United States Naval Ship
(USNS) Mercy as part of Pacific Partnership 2010.
6 Commander Australian National Command Element for Pacific Partnership, Lieutenant Colonel
Helen Murphy, on the wharf at Guam Naval Base with USNS Mercy in the background.
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