Skip to main content

Mother’s inspiration sets Lower Hutt man on Navy medical career

A mother’s lifesaving decision to keep up her first aid skills was all the spark Adam Armstrong needed to seek a career as a medic in the Royal New Zealand Navy.

09 July, 2021

He has just graduated from Defence Health School based at Burnham Military Camp following two-and-a-half years of study.

Able Medic Armstrong, 22, from Lower Hutt, said he decided to join the Navy after he left school. He wasn’t interested in university but wanted to study a trade.

“I chose to join the Navy because I have been around the ocean and boats my whole life and being able to be paid and train also sparked my interest.”

He said that the decision to become a medic was a pretty easy as when he was younger his mother saved an elderly man’s life.

“My mother was involved in an incident where she had to do CPR on an elderly man who had a heart attack. She had done yearly refreshers of first aid training and she was able to save his life.

“This inspired me to learn medicine so that if a similar situation presented itself, I could also provide lifesaving treatment and care,” Able Medic Armstrong said.

It was hard to choose just one highlight of his time at Defence Health School, but he enjoyed the practical aspect of training.

“The field exercise was a great experience for me and getting lots of exposure to intense scenarios that push you right outside your comfort zone.

“Doing stretcher carries and drags and getting covered in fake blood was good fun.”

Able Medic Armstrong said he found the academic side of things a challenge, but the study paid off.

“There is a lot of class work and study that needs to be done in order to understand the human body, having to sit down and study every night was a challenge for me.”

He will be now posted to Devonport Naval Base in Auckland where he will be working at the medical centre and hopes he will get to go to sea soon.

“Hopefully in the next year I will be posted to a ship and get some sea time as getting on a ship is one of the reasons I joined the Navy.”

For those wanting to join Defence, Able Medic Armstrong he said you will be getting access to limitless opportunities and experiences that you just don’t get with other jobs.

“One day you could be out at the range on a field exercise and the next you could be on a ship halfway to Antarctica or the Pacific Islands.” 

New Zealand Defence Force medics train in a tri-service environment at Defence Health School based at Burnham Military Camp. The training takes two-and-a-half years and is a mixture of theory and practice.

They also experience on-the-job training at Health Centres across Defence Force camps, ships and bases around New Zealand. On graduating, medics are deployable and able to operate interdependently within Defence Medical Treatment Protocols.