Reservist Medics Prepare for Airborne Operations

Reservists have tested their medical skills using the lightweight facilities the British Army would deploy in support of airborne operations.

Troops from 144 Para Med Sqn, which is the only TA medical unit with a parachute capability, were tested on their medical and soldiering skills in a demanding training exercise. Simulated casualties were treated in the military equivalent of a hospital’s accident and emergency unit. The tier one treatment facility is used by 16 Med Regt to provide medical support to 16 Air Assault Brigade. It is designed to be parachuted into action to provide initial treatment to casualties and stabilise them for movement to more specialist facilities.

Maj Eric Bellew, OC 144 Para Med Sqn, said: “This training is about looking beyond the end of military operations in Afghanistan to contingency operations. Contingency is about back to basics soldiering, providing medical care from tents with limited kit and supplies. It has been very thorough and realistic training, using amputees to act as casualties and test the chain from point of wounding to hospital. The facilities and equipment are what 16 Med Regt, our Regular parent unit, use and it is important that as Reservists we are familiar with that so we can play our part on operations. We are fully integrated into the Regiment and have deployed personnel every time it has gone on operations.”

Medics travelled from the TA unit’s detachments in London, Glasgow, Cardiff and Nottingham for the event. Maj Jan Jansen is a consultant surgeon who works at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. He has been in the TA for nine years and deployed to Afghanistan twice. He said: “This training is about adapting our medical skills to a military environment, which is very different to a hospital. My specialism is in trauma care, an area in which military medicine is at the forefront, and I can share my skills, experience and knowledge with both the Army and the NHS. My experience on operations is that there’s no difference between regulars and reservists. Everyone is treated the same and judged solely on how well they do their job.”

Pte Tom Hurley works as a Metropolitan Police detective and is a fully qualified combat medical technician. He said: “The training has been done by senior surgeons and clinical staff and has really high value. Working alongside this calibre of people helps develop your confidence and that, along with medical skills, is what I’ve gained from being in the TA.”

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