Dave Lassam - Medical training

Running time
3 min 8 sec
Date made
Place made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


It starts off at a first aid level but you're trained in hospital stuff as well. So you're trained in nursing. How to nurse a patient in bed. So how to put bandages on amputations, how to take temperatures, how to give blokes, and it was easy because there weren't many girls in the Navy then, bed baths and stuff like that and looking after, how to wash hair of a patient in bed.

And you think, "Well that's easy". And no, it's not actually and you've got to be trained how to do it. So within the Navy, you're looking at training your medic to serve at sea. That's what you want. You want the person to be able to serve at sea. Now on our ships back then you might have two medics, a chief petty officer and an able seaman, chief in charge.

Able seaman is the bloke that runs around and does all the hard yakka there's only two. On some of the bigger ships like the carrier we had 11 medics total so it was, all the medics have various ranks and skill sets. But that was on a carrier, which is really set to do a lot more stuff.

I think that the hardest part for people to grab hold of is the fact that we had to look at what we call the sea time and the seashore ratio. Because when you are on shore, you had to do all the technical courses, just to maintain your skills and progress yourself through the ranks as well. And we'd always work in one of the big hospitals, we had hospital at Cerberus, one at HMAS, Penguin, Sydney, and there's one in HMS Sterling, they were the main areas, but there were also little bases around that needed the odd medical team.

So we were spread fairly lightly on the ground, the medics, and you had reasonable places to go but sea time back in those days, your sea time was usually fairly short. You get 12 months, maybe two years if you're lucky, and then you'll be back ashore, and somebody else could go because, as I said, we had to keep turning people over and getting them getting him to see because that's what we're there for. Back then it was at HMAS Cerberus at the medical training school.

It was about nine months long. And it was all things like learning about the anatomy and physiology of the patient. So you do all skeletons, and all the systems, your brain, nervous system and all that and you'd learn all those. Then you'd learn all the diseases that affect those and how to treat them. And, of course, you get tested on it. And you do the practical side, how to give a person the bed bath, as I was saying, how to make a bed and do hospital corners and all those sorts of things.

How to run the ward, how to do a night duty, how to do all sorts of different skills, practical and theory. And it went for a long time. And a very good reason for that. You want to get medical stuff, right. And of course, you're always being checked by senior people, nurses and senior medics on what you're doing. And you've got books to fill out and so forth to maintain your skills.


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