Medics Train at Home to Support Aid Agencies Overseas

Airborne medics have trained to support aid agencies to help tackle natural disasters by working with a charity in Colchester.

16 Med Regt is part of 16 Air Assault Brigade and could find itself tasked to carry out Humanitarian Assistance to Disaster Relief Operations (HADRO). The unit practised the logistical skills required for this role by helping Colchester Foodbank transport eight tonnes of stores as it moved to new premises.

For Ex JORVIC HADRO the charity, which distributes food packages to families in need, played the role of an aid agency moving a food distribution point in a famine-affected country. 16 Med Regt, planned and carried out the move at short notice using the vehicles and equipment that would be available to troops if they had deployed by air on an operation anywhere in the world.

Lt Alex Wady said: “This has been an excellent and rewarding opportunity to train for contingency operations – we’ve been given a complex and realistic job to do, at the same time as supporting a charity working in our local community. Deploying on a humanitarian relief operation will not just test our core medical role but the full range of our military skills. We’ve planned the transport, manpower and communications we would need to do this for real, and gained valuable experience working alongside a civilian organisation.”

Colchester Foodbank was set up in 2010 and currently hands out 40 food packages a week, with each containing three days’ worth of non-perishable food donated by the public. It is moving to new premises at Moorside Industrial Estate after outgrowing its existing space.

Chair of trustees Rev Andrew Fordyce said: “I can’t thank 16 Med Regt enough for their assistance and I’m delighted that we’ve given them a useful training task. To have moved all our stock with our network of volunteers would have taken weeks to organise and do, but the Army have planned and implemented it in not much more than a day.”

16 Med Regt provides the Airborne Surgical Group (ABSG) to the AATF. The ABSG provides A&E, X-Ray, surgical tables, and intensive treatment facilities and is manned by anaesthetists, surgeons and other specialist medics, many of whom are parachute-qualified. It can also deploy with a primary healthcare node, which includes a GP and dentist.

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