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UK and French army medics rise to challenge

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

British and French military medics have trained to deploy together on operations around the world during a major exercise in Scotland.

Army medics transfer a simulated casualty from a battlefield ambulance during Exercise Joint Warrior [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]
Army medics transfer a simulated casualty from a battlefield ambulance

Exercise Joint Warrior has seen troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade and the 11th Parachute Brigade, the British and French Army’s rapid reaction forces, respectively, training together to be able to deploy side-by-side on contingency operations ranging from disaster relief to war-fighting.

A key training task saw a soldier with a simulated gunshot wound follow the pathway from point of wounding to recovery in a field hospital.

The simulated casualty is carried by stretcher to a waiting French Puma helicopter
The simulated casualty is carried by stretcher to a waiting French Puma helicopter [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]

After being brought off the battlefield, medics from Colchester-based 16 Medical Regiment performed life-saving resuscitation and damage control surgery on the casualty. A French Puma helicopter then evacuated her to a field hospital 100 miles away in Carlisle where she was transferred by ambulance to the emergency department.

Major Alex Woodward-Court, 16 Air Assault Brigade’s medical staff officer, said:

The patient care pathway should be as smooth as possible. Our medical assets are used only to buy the patient time and it is critical that we have a plan for onward evacuation, in this case provided by a Puma from our French partners.

It has been particularly beneficial to practise the route to the field hospital where our soldiers would receive excellent and ongoing care.

British Army medics tend to a simulated casualty inside a French Puma helicopter
British Army medics from 16 Medical Regiment tend to a simulated casualty in the back of a French Puma helicopter [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]

French Army doctor Major Sami Saliba said:

It has been an excellent experience to work alongside British medical units on a demanding exercise like this. We have been able to build familiarity with each other’s kits and procedures and identify how we can work together more closely.

As well as testing their medical skills, troops practised moving equipment by air and the limitations that imposes. 16 Medical Regiment’s Air Assault Surgical Group – which provides A&E, X-ray, surgical and intensive treatment facilities – arrived in West Freugh in a rapid landing by two C-130 transport aircraft.

Medics treat the simulated casualty inside the field hospital
Medics treat the simulated casualty inside the field hospital [Picture: Corporal Obi Igbo, Crown copyright]

Emergency department nurse Corporal David Dimba, aged 34 from Mauritius, said:

We’ve trained as we would deploy, with only 2 vehicles to move ourselves and our hospital facilities around, which is a constraint. We’ve also had the opportunity to test the delivery of our medical incident response team on all the helicopters we work with, including French Pumas.

I’ve only been with the regiment for 3 weeks, but this exercise has shown me how challenging and exciting contingency ops could be.

Published 30 April 2013