RAAF Adventuring

I joined the RAAF as a single Mother of 3 school aged children in Perth. I was hoping for stability in the lives of my kids especially for the boys, perhaps the RAAF joining would bring a role modeling for my future mens lives, Ha! The best of a Mothers intentions.
First I went to Adelaide for basic training for 3 months, was that an eye opener, for the first 2.4 km run I came last and only made it cause the Sgt had a hold of me by the scruff of the neck and dragged me past the finish line Thought I was going to Die!!!!lol They nicknamed me "mother"cause I was the oldest at 30yrs of our group. Can still hear them calling for me to climb over a 10ft wall and not doing it very gracefully either I may add. I never made it over the water course where had to grab the rope and swing across always ended up in the muddy water below! Loved teh shooting and the Sgt said that he would not want to be my x if I had a rifle in my hand as was a “good shot”, Learnt to pull the rifle(Styre)apart and put together blindfolded. Was interesting sharing in such close quarters and became family to some Wonderful people, the last day was one of the saddest in my life all of us going out to our seperate postings.
I was posted to Canberra, most new Medics were posted to Hospitals to learn the ropes but I went to a Base Med centre which basically means less people and more responsibility.
I snuck a quick trip back to Perth as was to go for another 2 months training and would not get to see the kids till then. The training took place in Melbourne which was an eye opener with regards the cold. Would leave a drink on the sill and would be almost frozen in the morning. Spent my 30 birthday on a rail station there and did not realise it was my birthday till half way through the day! Just forgot.
After Melbourne went and picked the Kids and Mother up and moved us all to Canberra. It was wonderful there. The Floriarde was on a Huge Flower festival and before that had never seen tulips growing was Stunning.
Starting at Fairbairn Base was a huge learning curve the young Sgt was great, he taught us Ambulance driving by driving around the base backwards using the mirrors only to negotiate the tracks Drove for miles.
Now as a mainstream Nurse having trained in Alice Springs did not have alot of experience with dispensing or prescribing of medications thats the Doctors job.lol not in the forces Medics do it and are trained for it and because I had gone to a base instead of a Hospital was placed into the pharmacy quite often Never been so scared in my life!!! Asked loads of questions and became an avid learner.
Not long after arriving at the base within weeks they sent me on a bush excercise where I was to be the only Medic, it was to be a canoe trip from Canberra to Wogga a 7 day trip and about 30 helo school staff. Me in charge of medical care for 30 odd people Me to treat and care all on my own with no Doctor. I was scared stiff.!!!!!!!
We boarded our hard plastic canoes and placed all the valuables in sealed plastic barrels, and off we went. To do this course we all had to pass the Navy swim test which consisted basically of survival techniques used if vessel overturns, like treading water for so long an swimming upside down underwater for certain length of the pool.
On the first half day out our radio comms got drenched and so was U/S, and our group could not contact the land based truck accompanying us. But had pre arranged the meeting point luckily But I was now almost in a state of terror what happened if something happened to some one and now had no equipment nor backup available for transport. And they started retelling stories of previous mishaps which did not help lol. It was beautiful scenery and hard work had to quite often get out and push as the water level was quite low in places. That eased up after the second day but it had started to turn extremely cold and we were wet within 2 min of boarding the canoes so all took to wearing black garbage bags, one on top as a shirt and one as a skirt to try to keep a tad dry and warm even the fellas. Was a site all walking around camp at the end of the day in rubbish bags!
On one of the days saw a snake ontop of the water and it started heading for us(curious probably) but I was not having a snake climb into our canoe, and did not want to annoy it so put the paddle in opposite side which if anyone knows paddling took us closer to the darn thing!! The guy in back put in some really heavy strokes and we got out of there. Next adventure it Hailed, now here we are in these little canoes and the waves are getting pretty darn big so have to start bailing or sink and it Hailed!!!!!The group became split and the storm got worse and no comms, so the rear guard Us decided to pull up onto shore to wait out the storm. Not happy campers!!! Eventually we met the rest of the group and camped. On about the fourth or fifth day the asked if I wanted to travel with the truck for the day and would meet them at regular points during the day. You bet a chance to spend the day dry and warm!!!! I was in for it and at each point made a fire(bush girl) for them to meet up with as I knew how cold and miserable it was so at least they could get warm and dry before the next stop(also meant I may not have to treat Hypothermia lol method in my madness). The seven days finished and we arrived in Wogga the only accomodation they had on the base were old disused barracks that had not been touched in years, Man it was heaven hot showers and a bed and did I mention hot showers. Even the fellas welcomed them, did not care about the dust or spiderwebs or build up of dead insects Heaven!!!!! And the worst injury that I had had to treat was a splinter in a finger on the first day, with all the life saving equipment and antibiotics and other meds the thing I used was a needle lol and had to search high and low for it lol!!!!!
When driving to work would see the National war memorial in the windscreen and the old and new Parliament Houses in rear view mirror and visa versa in the afternoon and think WOW the girl from the middle of nowhere literally living here Working here and Being here in our capitol city, totally unreal!!!
First parade was for a visiting dignitary at the Govenors house, you could here the scrunching of feet on the grass because it was so cold, whilst the dignitary was inside visiting we were at ease but still in formation, when he came out we stood to attention an were called to present arms with our weapons All that could be heard was the crunching of arms and wrists because of the cold and non movement everyones arms had stiffened Was as loud as a gun shot After that the Importants hurried away!!! Thankfully. Also did a parade outside of the New Parliament House and a very proud day it was, the most moving service was in front of the War memorial listening to stories from the “old diggers” on ANZAC day.
My first tri service parade with the Navy and I thought why do they have creases in their trousers, perhaps they have to store them under matteresses or something on the ships lol finally asked someone and they said No it was a tradition and represents the seven seas, thought they did not have irons on board ships Doh!!!!!

I learnt so much and gained alot of confidence, as a Medic I learned alot of bush medicine skills and bushcraft.
I always put my hand up for the bush work and had some great adventures, one was working with Duntroon on excercise at Kapooka the weather was freezing specially for a warmmie like me and the Army guys were so well equiped they even had hammoks for their equipment and weapons. They are all sleeping in tents on hammocks and it starts to rain, first I dug a trench (in the middle of the night) around my tent to keep out the water then tried building up a nest in the tent so the water could flow under the sleeping bag, mean while the army guys are snoring their heads off. Eventually I gave up and stoked the fire and had it raging to keep warm, by the time they rose it was a huge bon fire and they all thought I was a legend for getting up so early to get it going for them LOL didnt tell them different!!!!!
On that trip made friends with the equip Sgt and scunged the gortex suit they had placed on a dummy for firing practise, was vertually impossible to get that equip clothing unless in the Army. They were bemused by the fact that I would wear clothes from a target dummy, But I was warm and the best equiped RAAF medic on any excercise there after.
I loved flying in the helicopters They are my favourite Air craft especially the Black Hawk Awesome sound. After Canberra we were posted to Perth, home again lol.
One of the excercises we did there was to supposedly do a Medi Vac(Medical Evacuation) myself and another junior were told to get all the equipment out of storage and have ready, which we did, us two girls cleanded and lugged it all and when ready the commanding officer decided that to make it as realistic as possible we would have to ready the equipment just prior to the excercise GOSH we were so please to then lugg it all back to storage and get there extra early next morning to ready it again!!!!!!lol Now one of the female officers did not like me at all, have that effect with some people (no idea why) so when we landed in Langly Park in Perth (which was great seeing all these office buildings and peoples faces staring open mouthed at us as are not normally allowed to land aircraft there unless special circumstances). There was a reasonable media crew waiting to film this for a news story and the female officer told me to stay on board the Aircraft and remain out of sight OK I had assissted in the set up and the collecting of the material etc but was now to stay aboard, she actually carried a stretcher for the first time actual work Cameras work wonders lol anyway on her way down the ramp she almost slipped and rolled her ankle and the whole stretcher nearly went over with the patient on board, on return I was then allowed to assisst as she had hurt herself and looked like a total dill in front of senior officers and camera crew. Talk about nervous after seeing her performance lol!!!! When we took off they left the doors open and we all had the opportunity to tailgate surf with our legs hanging over the tail in mid air, site I shall never forget over my Home City.
Under Water Escape Training!!! Because we worked with Helicopters and flew over water on occassions we were required to do this training, which preped us for if we ever had to ditch in the Ocean (God forbid). It consisted of a cage with floats attached to the bottom with seating for 4 inside. There are all sorts of steps to go through before unbuckling and escaping. eg slide window 2,3 check mate 2,3 etc about 5 or 6 steps before escaping. Once we had the steps together in our heads we are then buckled into the seats and the cage is turned over into the water and the first time they do this to you it is PANICK stations!!!!!! no thought for friend or steps what steps just get the hell out of there the best and fastest way possible. Once it has been done the first time is not so bad and the memory cells start to kick back in, luckily they take it in stages and the last step is to wait and sit upside down in water waiting for your partner to swim across you and escape out your window, those are the longest secs in life waiting for them and not let the panick and need for air get a hold while they swim out!!! And you better hope they have it together. Once it has been done a couple of times is actually a buzz!!!
This is just some of the adventures I had in the time I spent in RAAF and loved every minute of it. And if you have made it this far Congratulations and Thankyou for sharing some of my Life adventures.
Cheers from Sharon
Darwin Northern Territory Australia

RAAF Adventuring

Sharon Davey

Darwin, Australia

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RAAF Adventures

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