Army Medics join forces with NHS for challenging exercise

256 (City of London) Field Hospital, based in Walworth, have recently conducted Exercise Medical Challenge (EMC19) with the help of other Reserve units from across London.

The Army Medical Services Reserve and the National Health Service (NHS) are key partners in the delivery of both military and civilian healthcare so the exercise was an attraction event for members to build relationships between the two government organisations.

It was also an opportunity to understand how the Army Reserve works and provides the opportunity to learn about contingency planning, resourcefulness and adaptability.

The event took place at Longmoor Training Camp near Liss on Wednesday 24 July 19. There were ninety seven NHS staff from various roles across London and the South East including Theatre Nurses, Ward Sisters and specialised individuals involved in the exercise who were keen to develop their knowledge whilst at the same time have some well-deserved fun. The staff were split into nine teams with approximately nine to twelve individuals on each team.

The exercise was aimed to test and build leadership skills, develop teamwork, enhance communication, test individual resilience and develop decision making abilities.

There were nine key elements to the day and stands available to visit which the teams rotated around and participated in. Some of these included a REME (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer) recovery stand where the teams had to work together to construct and implement a pulley devise utilising REME equipment to be able to recover a broken-down vehicle.

Another of the stands included a medical extraction, something which many of the participants felt very at ease with and were able to learn from. Much of the medical scenario the NHS staff dealt with effectively and professionally but what they struggled the most with, and were able to take the most from, was dealing with the situation from an Army perspective and with facilities made available to them within that situation.  

the stands we visited were very useful, they forced us to think outside the box and utilise everything we have available to us Nzinga Lawrence, Theatre Nurse

Nzinga Lawrence, a Theatre Nurse at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital in Chertsey said; “The day was brilliant, some of the stands we visited were very useful, they forced us to think outside the box and utilise everything we have available to us, including your team and their strengths. The partnership healthcare has with the British Army is effective, it is clear we both need to have a clear, focussed mind when it comes to dealing with chaos and the exercise has allowed us to develop and hone in on the skills.”

The exercise also gave the NHS Staff the opportunity to understand and familiarise themselves with other roles within the military and discover how teamwork and leadership are applied.

The individuals were able to get up close with the types of explosive ordnance our soldiers deal with and they were able to get hands on with some of the Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search equipment which the operators utilise.

The NHS staff were able to apply the working practices which our soldiers use as they were given the opportunity to test out and travel through a makeshift minefield clearance stand.

In addition, the individuals were able to take part in a cross-fertilisation of information regarding healthcare at the citizen aid stand and were able to get involved in some virtual weapon firing on the indoor range (Dismounted Close Combat Training.)

The day wouldn’t have been complete without the traditional Army team building challenges and a gun run.

we have something at heart which is more than money, it’s about delivering an effect to our people Col Ashleigh Boreham

Colonel Ashleigh Boreham, Commanding Officer 256 Field Hospital (City of London) said; “The NHS runs a Step Into Healthcare programme, which is unique as part of the Covenant and as part of that Covenant that allows people with the skills sets that they’ve learnt in the Army to transfer those skills sets into the NHS. Both organisations are vocational, and we have something at heart which is more than money, it’s about delivering an effect to our people. We already have a unique bond and this exercise is just building upon that, it was a fantastic experience for both parties.”