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First Woman Medic

  • Michelle Partington
  • Interview by: Jess Boydon


To be honest my first tour

was as the first female with the RAF regiment

out on the ground.

So it was like a ground paramedic going 'round on patrols

and doing everything that they did.

And it was a massive thing to get a female onto that

and the main stress was before I went

because of people saying,

"Oh you can't do that.

"We can't have a female, we can't have this,

"we can't have that."

And I'm like why?

You know, and for me I pretty stubborn.

I was like, "I wanna do it,

"I wanna prove that we can do it."

And as personal as an achievement for me

but to prove to others that actually it doesn't matter

what you've got between your legs,

if you can do a job, you're fit enough and agile enough

and in the right frame of mind you can do anything you want.

So I was pushing and pushing hard.

I was working with the regiment guys doing foot patrols,

doing my fitness tests, getting up to the standard

and beyond where I needed to be.

So that I could continue with the foot patrols

and I wasn't a hindrance to anybody.

And I had to say to the powers that be,

"We can do this."

'Cause they were like,

"Oh you'll need a separate admin area won't you?

"You'll need a separate tent."

You don't have tents in the middle of Afghan,

you put your bed out and that's it.

Your little, mozzie tent and that's you.

So and you your shelter sheet up if need be.

And that's it.

So if the other lads were walking off with a shovel

and their rifle to go to the toilet,

what's the different between them doing it

and me doing it?

So, I didn't bother with any of that

and we just mucked in.

And for the first week or so it was really, really hard

because you have to prove yourself to the lads

'cause they've you know,

they're gonna have a little bit of a stigma

towards it as well.

Saying, "Oh a woman can't do this job."

And there was a small amount of that

but I proved myself quite early on

so then that went and I just become one of the lads.

And that was one of the best tours,

well the best tour I'd ever done

and I guess, for me I see that as the making

of who I really am as a person.

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