Nikki Houlahan has gone from leading assemblies at Feilding High School to treating children in a field hospital in Samoa.
An NZ Army nurse, Lieutenant Houlahan, a former Feilding High School head girl, has even bigger plans - she wants to work with the Royal New Zealand Air Force to develop the ability to airlift critical-care patients out of troublespots.
But for now she is content with delivering health-care services out of a tented field hospital in Samoa.
She is a member of a 100-strong New Zealand Defence Force contingent taking part in a humanitarian aid and disaster response exercise in Samoa.
Exercise Tropic Twilight, which began on July 28 and runs until August 19, is Lieutenant Houlahan's second overseas deployment since enlisting in the army in January last year.
“Raising the profile of Defence nursing is crucial,” she said. “We have young and motivated nurses who are passionate about our defence force and are keen for challenges and opportunities to advance professionally and clinically.”
Lieutenant Houlahan supervises the intensive care unit and the two wards of the tent hospital which has been set up on the grounds of a Samoan high school as well as a field treatment centre.
She is halfway through a postgraduate diploma in health sciences at the University of Otago, majoring in aeromedical retrieval and transport, namely how to airlift injured people out of troublespots.
It's something she thinks could make a difference.
"Having such a capability would enable the New Zealand Defence Force to rescue personnel with serious head injuries, gunshot wounds and other types of major trauma and stabilise them in-flight.
"It will help raise patient survivability rate."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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