Exercise Vigorous Warrior sees 23 Medical Squadron, 16 Medical Regiment working with allies to improve the ability of NATO forces to work together in response to international crises.
Over the week-long field exercise (8-12 Apr), the Colchester-based medics seamlessly integrated their air-portable Role 2 medical treatment facility, which includes a resuscitation suite, operating theatre, intensive care beds and a holding ward, into a multinational field hospital.
The exercise tested each nations’ ability to provide medical treatment, from care at the point of wounding all the way to strategic evacuation by air or sea to military hospitals.
Lieutenant Conor Wilson, who commanded 23 Med Sqn’s medical evacuation troop, said: “We’re working as a multinational medical brigade, providing the brigade’s patient transport capability in our battlefield ambulances. We’ve worked alongside a lot of different nationalities, both military and civilian medics, as we’ve moved casualties.
“It can be challenging, particularly getting around the language barrier and ensuring everyone understands decision-making and intent, but we make it work and that’s very rewarding. We’re building understanding and learning from each other all the time, and it’s better that we get it all ironed out now in training so that we’re prepared to deploy together on a NATO operation.”
Paramedic Corporal Kevin Clark said: “As an example of what we have been doing, we moved a Romanian soldier with a simulated gunshot wound in a British ambulance from a Dutch Role 1, Regimental Aid Post to a Belgian Role 2 Surgical Facility. I got a brief from the Belgian medics about the casualty when we picked him up. We continued treatment in the ambulance and then handed him over to the Dutch facility, where he had surgery. As medics, we’ve all come together as a team and built an understanding of each other’s equipment and working practices. We’ve identified where there are problems and built bridges to get around them - training together builds confidence for future operations together.”
16 Medical Regiment provides medical support to 16 Air Assault Brigade, offering consultant-led damage control resuscitation and surgery to save life, limb and eyesight in addition to primary healthcare. Specialist personnel in the unit, based at Merville Barracks in Colchester, include consultant orthopaedic surgeons, biomedical scientists and combat medical technicians who are trained and equipped to deploy by parachute, helicopter or airlanding.