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ALTC Fiction Competition Winner: Email of a Medic – 2035

From: james.alexander23@y243.defence.gov.au
To: thealexandersofaus@gmail.com

Subject: 350625-EMAIL-G’day from the Sub-Continent-UNCLASS

Hey Mum and Dad,

How are you guys? Henry must be pumped about his 18th tomorrow – shame it’s a school night haha. I’ve sent across something for him that I picked up over here however adding quarantine procedures to the already slow-going ADF into Australia Post processes I don’t expect he’ll actually get it ‘til his 21st.

Sorry my correspondence has been few and far between, but you know me—I’m hopeless. As I said though, no news is good news, and news is a bonus. On that front, I do actually have some news. I know by now you guys will have seen stuff about Phil McNamara’s incident on the tele… Well, I was the medic.

Now that I know he’s alright and I’ve been able to reflect on it all, it’s really quite surreal how it went down. Mac was out in the bot yard, re-installing some hard-drives after a simple software update, when one of the bots glitched and opened up on him. First I knew of it was when my watch went off, telling me to check the vitals for MCN9365; I dashed across to my clinic, threw on my AR glasses and pulled up his feed. I could see he was in the yard, his heart and respiratory rates were way up. His Legionarius suit had activated, meaning he was bleeding, but he was still conscious. I patched straight through to him and thankfully he answered – but he was still in the thick of it, and I could hear rounds going off. Then, out of nowhere, they stopped— I found out later that the boss had managed to remotely deactivate the bot, but at the time, I didn’t know that. I just waited until I thought it was safe, and rushed over to Mac – he’d been speaking to me throughout so I knew at that point that he was still doing OK. Just as I reached him, I got an update that the US Role 3 (or the Big Kahuna, as we call it over here) was expecting him as soon as we could package him up. Simpson, our autonomous stretcher bearer, had followed me into the yard and scooped Mac straight up, lifting him so that he could be worked on more easily.

Simpson is a really cool piece of kit – he is literally a stretcher with 4WD capability. He’s like a real-life version of one of dad’s old Transformer toys: one moment he’s a flat, sleek-looking autonomous vehicle, and the next he’s carrying a wounded soldier over uneven terrain and back to relative safety. But anyway, that’s not the point of the story.

We checked Mac was still doing OK and confirmed that the Legionarius was doing its job to stop his haemorrhage, then whizzed off to the helicopter landing zone and loaded him into the UAV-A (unmanned aerial vehicle – ambulance). The docs at the big Kahuna took over his care then, using the UAV-A screen and Da Vinci remote controlled care module that traverses the patient pod. They’d been tracking it the whole time remotely by patching into mine and Mac’s glasses feeds anyway. To be honest I kind of felt a little redundant in the end haha, but I suppose that’s a good thing because he was stabilised and in the ‘hands’ of the people he needed to be with in record time.

That’s really the only excitement I’ve had to date so far – which I guess is another good thing. I tell you what though, I’m glad they spent so much time training us up for CBRN at the school. I don’t think they were tracking India and Pakistan launching nukes at each other 5 years ago when I started my training, but it’s come in handy in more ways that I would have realised. The roboticists have to have regular checks because they are working with bots that have been in fall-out zones, but so far so good. What’s more interesting is this Rishikesh Virus that is now at pandemic levels across the sub-continent. It’s not technically a weapon, but it’s doing way more damage now than the nuclear stuff and so the training to manage and protect against biological agents has been a godsend. We’re 4 months in now and—touch wood—none of the 100 or so working with me directly have come down with the bug. If someone did get it, we’d be in a real bind to manage it – you don’t want to send infectious people to larger military hospitals because they’re not designed to manage highly contagious individuals. At the same time though, the civilian and NGO clinics that are trying to manage the virus are at breaking point. I mean, if we had to put them on a plane out of here, it’d be in a quarantine pod… But the plane, pod, and crew would all have to go through a decontamination and quarantine period so we’d lose an important asset. Not to mention introducing an infected person to Australia and running the risk of it getting out. Fingers crossed we continue to avoid having a run in with Rishkesh – to be honest it’s my greatest fear.

Anyway, that’s probably enough for now—I’ve got a game of beach volleyball to get to. We’re going to show some Yank pilots how it’s done Down Under. Say hi to grandad and nonna from me, and let grandad know we’ve got coverage of the Bledisloe over here so I’ll be watching: surely the drought has got to end after 33 years!

All my love,
James xx

P.S. In another odd twist of irony, the ‘Robot Hospital’ which the rogue bot was sent to for repair is literally next door to The Big Kahuna. So Mac and his attacker were likely recovering basically side by side. x


About the author: Nick Alexander is a current serving Combat Health Officer. A self-confessed geek, he uses his love of sci-fi and Doctor Who in particular to wax lyrical about opportunities and risks to supporting the health and wellbeing of future forces. Nick is also an Associate Editor of the Profession of Arms blog Grounded Curiosity, and has previously had pieces published on The Cove, Grounded Curiosity and Bourbon & Battles.

 

 

 

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The Cove is a professional development site for the Australian Profession of Arms. The views expressed within individual blog posts and videos are those of the author, and do not reflect any official position or that of the author's employers' - see more here. Any concerns regarding this blog post, video or resource should be directed in the first instance to hello@cove.org.au.