Medical Reservists on the

Frontline of Trauma Care By SACIwan Benneyworth PhD

In the operations room of the Royal Air Force medical facility aradio crackles into life. The assorted medical staff immediately take notice –news is coming in of an IED explosion and small-arms fire hitting anearby patrol.

Within moments an Initial Response Team sets off in specialist military ambulances carrying doctors, paramedics and trauma nurses. The remaining medical staff launch into their much-practiced procedures while they wait for the casualties to arrive. They are based at aRole 1 Enhanced Medical Treatment Facility,atemporary tent structure designed to treat minor injuries and stabilise more serious casualties. When those casualties arrive, the clinical team are prepped and ready to treat injuries ranging from gunshot wounds to traumatic loss of limbs.

"Our personnel bring extensive clinical experience from their NHS roles,"

All of this has taken place not on some dusty desert battlefield, but in rural Shropshire; at the Nesscliff Training Area and at RAF Shawbury.The blast and gunfire are simulated, the wounded civilians and soldiers played by air cadets or airmen. The amputees are real, but are covered in impressive makeup. It has been one of many scenarios undertaken during the two-week Exercise Meddygol Ops involving more than 200 personnel from the Royal Air Force and Army Medical Reserves and the US Army and Air Force Reserve. The incident may be fictional, but the training value is very real.

"My clinical skills have massively increased thanks to exercises like these, as well as an operational deployment," said Corporal Liz Drain, aFlight Nurse with 4626 Squadron and an A&E nurse in Leeds. "During Op Herrick, my confidence grew hugely.Ihad to be an autonomous practitioner,caring for patients on my own at 35,000 feet when flying back to the UK. Inow stand up for my patients in the NHS more than ever if I believe the form of care Isuggest is the right one."

As the RAF commemorates the centenary of the first aeromedical evacuation conducted in 1917, the immersive and realistic training provided by such large-scale medical exercises ensures that RAF medical personnel remain at the cutting edge of battlefield medicine and specialist trauma care.

"Our personnel bring extensive clinical experience from their NHS roles," said Wing Commander Colin Mathieson of 4626 (Aeromedical Evacuation) Squadron, based at RAF Brize Norton. "Many have gained unique experience from deployed operational roles. We offer aunique opportunity to share that knowledge with new personnel to ensure we continue to offer highly valuable capability."

More information about medical careers in the RAF Reserves can be found at 



Autumn 2017

©MOD Crown Copyright 2017.

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