Hero from the Hill: Bronte Martin awarded Order of Australia

One of Australia’s most highly decorated and experienced emergency response and trauma nurses, Broken Hill’s Bronte Martin, received one of the highest accolades available to an individual when awarded The Member of the Order of Australia on the King’s Birthday.

Ms Martin, who now lives in Darwin and has travelled the world as a top flight trauma nurse, grew up in Broken Hill and still very much calls the Silver City home.

“I went to school at Alma, I’m a Southie,” Ms Martin told the Barrier Truth.

“I was born, grew up and schooled in Broken Hill. I left in 1993 to go to university in Adelaide. My mum, my dad, who has now passed away, my sister, her husband and my four nephews are all still in Broken Hill.”

Ms Martin still loves to return to the Silver City to visit her family and tries to make the journey once or twice a year.

“It is a bit of a journey from Darwin, but I still come home as often as I can. I was home in February for my sister’s fortieth and I caught the Mundi Mundi Bash last year too. It’s still home for me.”

There is much more to Ms Martin than just Broken Hill. Fact is, she is one of the most decorated emergency response and trauma service workers this country has seen. Her honours list could be an entire page of this newspaper on its own.

“I’m very passionate and dedicated to working alongside people on what often is their worst day or week and helping to make it that a little bit better.”

She has been involved in numerous emergency responses all over the globe and has worked for internationally recognised bodies including the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“I think I am extremely privileged to do the work that I do. I’m very passionate and dedicated to working alongside people on what often is their worst day or week and helping to make it that a little bit better. Doing the best for the most with the least is normally the mantra we roll with,” Ms Martin told the Truth.

In 2013, Ms Martin was part of the initial Australian Medical Assistance Team and helped set up the National Critical Care Trauma Response Centre. She deployed to The Philippines in 2013 following typhoon Haiyan which, along with a seven-month deployment in Afghanistan, proved pivotal points in her life.

“Those two events really shaped me and my career,” she says.

“In the Philippines we saw over 2700 patients in 21 days. We did 276 surgeries, a number of births and sadly a number of deaths.

“Because of the work we did in Typhoon Haiyan I was able to focus more on the deployable civilian health capability. That saw me working closely with the WHO in setting up a global program to make sure that other civilian teams are well prepared, and quality assured and can deliver safe and effective care in the field, which is not easy to do, often in very low resource or austere settings.”

A six-month stint with the WHO in Geneva again affected the trajectory of Ms Martin’s already impressive career because then the Covid pandemic hit.

“I’ve had nine deployments during Covid years supporting colleagues mainly in the Pacific, but also here in Australia. I did do a couple of national deployments in amongst all of that too,” Ms Martin told us.

During the pandemic, she was deployed to the world’s largest refuge camp in Bangladesh, known as Cox’s Bazar. A place with some 880,000 refugees.

Following her stint there, she faced one of the most challenging deployments of her career in Samoa during their devastating measles outbreak.

“The overwhelming need and the very unique circumstances that it presented to the people of Samoa and their health system was quite devastating.

“So very, very many sick children, in particular young children and infants, and they lost 83 children in a three-month period, which is quite significant for a population of 200,000 in a remote island community.”

In our next issue we’ll continue Ms Martin’s fascinating story…

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