Airborne medics have tested how their skills could be used to help Caribbean islands hit by hurricanes.
16 Medical Regiment is being held at very high readiness to cover the Caribbean hurricane season, which runs from June to November. Known as Operation Ventus, the Royal Navy has ships in the Caribbean to provide immediate help if a hurricane hits British Overseas Territories, with hundreds more personnel and equipment from across the military on standby to assist.
The Colchester-based medics trained for the commitment on Exercise Winged Serpent (4-8 July), which saw the STANTA Ranges in Norfolk stand in as an island battered by a hurricane.
As well as distributing aid supplies and establishing camps for displaced people, the unit tested its full patient care pathway. Simulated casualties were treated from the point of wounding to consultant-led damage control resuscitation and surgery to save life, limb and eyesight, as well as primary healthcare.
Whether it is to provide disaster relief after a Caribbean hurricane or deploy on a combat operation anywhere in the world, we are packed and ready to go with the flexibility to do whatever is asked of us. Major Sean Mason
Major Sean Mason said: “As medics, our approach is the same whatever the operation we are involved in. We are there to save lives and prevent human suffering, whether the casualty is a soldier with a gunshot wound, a child with a disease caused by bad water quality or a woman involved in a car accident.
“The exercise was designed to put our medics under pressure in a different scenario to what they’re used to, and they dealt with it very well. We learnt during the evacuation of Kabul last summer that our people need extra support after dealing with unfamiliar casualties, like children or elderly people, and realistic training helps build resilience and familiarity with what they could be called on to do.”
16 Medical Regiment’s core role is to provide medical support to 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team, the British Army's global response force, and it is trained and equipped to deploy at short notice by parachute, helicopter or air landing.
Major Mason said: “We are the first Army medical unit to be stood up for Operation Ventus and, if we deployed, we’d be working alongside unfamiliar units outside our core role in an uncertain situation.
"16 Medical Regiment is the natural choice because our role within airborne forces means we have a readiness mindset. Whether it is to provide disaster relief after a Caribbean hurricane or deploy on a combat operation anywhere in the world, we are packed and ready to go with the flexibility to do whatever is asked of us.”