I am a major in the Australian Army. In 2014, I served as regimental medical officer for 5 RAR (5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment) for an exercise in Hawaii, providing primary and emergency care, and linking troops with tertiary care as required. I was also encouraged to work side-by-side with the soldiers and participate in the training activities. One afternoon, I was sitting at the edge of a field watching soldiers fast-roping out of a US Marine Corps Sikorsky Super Stallion helicopter. Fast-roping is a technique for sliding down a thick rope and is used to rapidly deploy troops in places where a helicopter cannot touch down, such as difficult terrain or for boarding a ship at sea. I was contemplating my own irrational fear of heights when I got a tap on the shoulder from the commander telling me I was up next. Before I had the chance to protest, I was in a line and then up in the Sikorsky. A few deep breaths later, I closed my eyes and jumped, safely sliding to the ground. It was terrifying but exhilarating, and I am forever grateful for that friendly encouragement to overcome my fear of heights.

Major Dr Emma Bucknell
Canberra, ACT