Some of the finest men I know carried a gun all their career.
Some of the finest men I know had to put down that gun and pick up their friends and put them back together.
After 26 years in the Regular Army, half of which was spent within the SF group as a Commando qualified medic, I know what it is to see true trauma, smell fear and experience death and destruction tinged with the smell of cordite and blood. Its raw, real and you can find yourself standing on that precipice literally holding someone’s life in your hands.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Ever since man has been killing man, there have been healers working in the wings. From the mystics of the middle age, through physicians of the Renaissance, the stretchers bearers, medics, nurses and Doctors of WWI and WWII, every conflict and trouble since – we have been there. The difference – the training and exposure.
Current military medical technicians complete an 18 month course at the School of Army Health, Bonegilla, which is a Tri-Service course. This involves theoretical and practical assessments and hospital placements and once completed they are granted an Endorsed Enrolled Nurses certificate and Diploma towards the Bachelor of Paramedic Science. They are then deemed competent to be allocated to a unit, where they will be further assessed and mentored by senior clinical providers, this is an ongoing development to prepare them for the ability to be sole providers of care. Soldiers first – healers second.
Trust is something that, too often these days is given implicitly, without our thought or knowledge, whether we know it or not. When we board an aircraft we place or trust in the pilots’ skill, when going into surgery we trust in the surgeon professionalism, crossing a road you trust in the drivers. As a soldier you place your trust in your commanders; but also in your medic, your “Doc” your “Kilo” in the SF world, you can have no greater ally. They will go through what is required and more to ensure that you are set up not just to survive, but for the next level of care.
Selection and posting to SF units as support staff, are highly sort after and desirable, but acceptance is another thing entirely. Merely volunteering is not enough, generally the senior clinicians have a lot of input when selecting from the ‘gene pool’. Kilos are expected to be able to maintain the casualty in austere environments, for extended periods with what they and the team carry. Their warfighting skills and fitness needs to be on par with the rest of the team they will work within – non acceptance or inadequate performance will not be tolerated. Continued training, assessment, integration and delivery of upskilling others team members are but some roles demanded.
For those that choose there is the opportunity to undergo assessment and selection for beret qualification and reinforcement training within the group. The opportunities to work at the highest levels alongside and fully integrated, whilst maintaining the highest levels of fitness, combat aptitude and medical provision is a rare distinction.
Thomas Newkirk, Yankee Kilo 2010, winning hearts and minds.
Do what you can with what you’ve got, when you can
We all strive for a level of identity, of fulfilment – this goes well beyond the first few years of your working life and if you are lucky will continue to drive you ever forward. As a Kilo, professional mastery is your hall mark – anything less is selling yourself short and doing a disservice to the men that you stand shoulder to shoulder with.
As is the case with all selection courses, the fat is stripped away and the meat is revealed. Don’t be afraid of this – embrace it, in today’s world we are to burdened by the “fat”.
My professionalism is on display every day. From Senior SF Kilo to current Intensive Care Paramedic, I am not perfect – but I will strive for perfection in what I do and the care I deliver. We are the ones who have the ability to perform that one intervention that when done correctly saves lives. Don’t be fooled there is no ‘easy’ day, some days your best efforts will not change the outcome and there is nothing to be done.
Have no doubt – when the chips are down and they scream your name, the Kilo will come and do what needs to be done. That others may live.
Kilo Golf Out