Medics prepare for Helmand

A team of tri-Ser­vice reg­u­lar, reservist and inter­na­tion­al medics have spent the last few days tak­ing part in an intense train­ing exer­cise for their upcom­ing deploy­ment to Afghanistan.

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Field Hos­pi­tal per­son­nel dur­ing pre-deploy­ment train­ing at the Stren­sall med­ical train­ing cen­tre (stock image) [Pic­ture: Chris Bark­er, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

The exer­cise at Towthor­pe Lines, Stren­sall, was designed to pull togeth­er over a year’s worth of build-up plan­ning for a three-month oper­a­tional tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Amongst those tak­ing part in the exer­cise was Ter­ri­to­r­i­al Army Cap­tain Andy Scott from 201 Field Hos­pi­tal, based in New­cas­tle-upon-Tyne.

The exer­cise gave Cap­tain Scott the chance to get to know the oth­er mem­bers of his team before arriv­ing in Hel­mand province as well as help­ing him to famil­iarise him­self with the dif­fer­ent ways of work­ing and ter­mi­nol­o­gy amongst the inter­na­tion­al and tri-Ser­vice team.

A detailed mock-up of Camp Bastion’s hos­pi­tal has been cre­at­ed in Towthor­pe Lines to pre­pare the med­ical staff for the clin­i­cal pres­sures they will face in the­atre.

And the medics were also joined on the exer­cise by a team of amputee actors and vet­er­ans, who use their per­son­al trau­ma expe­ri­ences togeth­er with real­is­tic make-up and pros­thet­ics to sim­u­late the kinds of injuries that might occur on tour.

They remain in char­ac­ter through­out a giv­en sce­nario to ensure the train­ing expe­ri­ence is intense and real­is­tic, help­ing improve per­for­mance in the treat­ment of cat­a­stroph­ic bat­tle­field injuries.

Talk­ing about the exer­cise, Cap­tain Scott said:

“This exer­cise is bril­liant, it’s an excel­lent set-up, and is as real­is­tic as it can get with­out being out on the ground in an oper­a­tional the­atre. They are putting us through our paces; it’s very tax­ing and dif­fi­cult at times but it needs to be so we are at the right stan­dard to deploy.

“I just want to get out there now and get the job done. We all have itchy feet and can’t wait to go and take over from the guys serv­ing at the moment so they can come home and see their loved ones.”

Like the oth­er medics tak­ing part in the exer­cise, Cap­tain Scott is used to pro­vid­ing med­ical care in dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances. In his full-time career he works as a Nurse Prac­ti­tion­er at the James Cook Uni­ver­si­ty Hos­pi­tal:

“The job I do in the NHS gives me an excel­lent back­ground in med­i­cine and has trained me to a very high stan­dard, so I’m con­fi­dent I will be able to treat the guys in the­atre at the same lev­el as I do back home, if not bet­ter,” he said.

The unit’s Com­mand­ing Offi­cer, Colonel Sharon McDow­ell, will lead the team in Camp Bas­tion to ensure that world class med­ical care is main­tained at the Hel­mand hos­pi­tal. She said:

“The mis­sion spe­cif­ic val­i­da­tion train­ing gives the clin­i­cal teams the oppor­tu­ni­ty to rehearse the type of cas­es and casu­al­ties that may come into the hos­pi­tal out in Camp Bas­tion.

“It’s very real­is­tic; there is a lot of effort put into the casu­al­ty sim­u­la­tion which is based on real sce­nar­ios that are hap­pen­ing out in the­atre, and get fed back to the train­ing facil­i­ty here.

“We work hard to ensure casu­al­ties get the same lev­el of care in Afghanistan that you receive in the NHS, or even bet­ter some­times because of the high stan­dard of peo­ple over there. Every­body in the team is excit­ed about the chal­lenge and can’t wait to go out and sup­port the mil­i­tary.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK

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