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Medics test their mettle in Oman

Personnel of 5 Armoured Medical Regiment (5 Armd Med Regt) and 22 Field Hospital are currently deployed to the dusty heat of the Oman desert on Exercise KHANJAR OMAN 19 (Ex KO19). They are working alongside and in support of members of the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) and 1st Armoured Infantry Brigade (1 Armd Inf Bde), and the Royal Oman Army.

As part of Ex KO19, 22 Field Hospital has constructed a Role 2 Field Hospital to deliver vital life-saving medical facilities to injured personnel extracted from the battlefield by Combat Medical Technicians of 5 Armd Med Regt, with Wildcat helicopters of 659 Sqn 1 Army Air Corps providing the casualty evacuations by air.

The hospital is set up to provide emergency life, limb and eye-sight saving procedures and if necessary medical interventions with two emergency bays, a theatre, ITU beds and 12 ward beds, of which two are set up for the purpose of infection prevention and control.

Consultants with specialist skills in burns and plastics, general surgery, orthopaedics, emergency medicine, intensive care and anaesthetics are providing life-saving surgery and care to patients, alongside operating department practitioners. Whilst specialist nurses and healthcare assistants provide support to wards and ICU teams.

Spending time away from my husband, who is also serving, and our three-year-old daughter has been challenging. Overcoming these challenges and celebrating the successes of both deployments has made my time away worthwhile, adding value to my military career. Sergeant Davis

Ex KO19 is providing the opportunity for the all the medical personnel to work together to triage patients through the medical chain ensuring they receive the appropriate care at each stage of their journey. It’s an important test to prove the clinical capability and allow the medics to fulfil their potential.

Numerous opportunities

Sergeant Davis is Wards Second in Command (2IC) and the lead for Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) for 22 Field Hospital. She has returned to Oman having deployed on Ex SS3 last year. She said: “Spending time away from my husband, who is also serving, and our three-year-old daughter has been challenging. Overcoming these challenges and celebrating the successes of both deployments has made my time away worthwhile, adding value to my military career.”

As lead for IPC, a job usually performed by a nursing officer, Sgt Davis has been undertaking regular audits to monitor compliance to IPC policy. “This role has seen me prepare and deploy the field hospital’s IPC capability, maintaining up to 98 per cent compliance throughout the hospital on both deployments in arduous desert conditions, these have been challenging in the clinical setting,” she said.

“My second role as deployed Wards 2IC is to support the Wards IC and department in the daily running of the ward and includes providing evidence-based nursing care to all entitled persons admitted to the wards on the exercise.”

This being my first deployment as both a nurse and a specialist, I have had a number of opportunities to expand my military knowledge, skills and experience by participating in numerous clinical presentations Sergeant Odoom

Safest and best level of nursing care

Sergeant Odoom is a medical specialist nurse and works as part of the 12-bed Intermediate Care Ward in the field hospital. As part of the team she works alongside a consultant physician and other specialist nurses including burns and plastics, surgical as well as healthcare assistants of various backgrounds.

She said: “This being my first deployment as both a nurse and a specialist, I have had a number of opportunities to expand my military knowledge, skills and experience by participating in numerous clinical presentations.

“This deployment has opened my eyes to a vast amount of opportunities to work alongside several diverse specialists. Although this is only a short deployment, I have thoroughly enjoyed being part of this team of knowledgeable clinicians and look forward to what’s to come next.”

Sgt Odoom’s routine is focussed on delivering the safest and best level of nursing care to all entitled persons taking part in the exercise. “Additionally, I am part of the Medical Emergency Team (MET) as one of the first responders should a MET call be initiated. Moreover, as SNCO (senior non-commissioned officer, I am here to provide guidance and support to anyone who requires assistance.”

Best possible treatment

The primary role of 5 Armd Med Regt is providing real-life support (RLS) to the exercise and utilising the pre-hospital treatment team (PHTT) forward with the RTR Battlegroup. The Army provides world-class training and so far, the regiment has trained 70 Team Medics since arriving in theatre.

Lance Corporal Jobson-Wood, of 24 Sqn 5 Armd Med Reg, is providing pre-hospital emergency care from one of eight Bulldog armoured vehicles as part of a PHTT. He is a Combat Medical Technician responsible for treating injured personnel until they can be MEDEVAC’D (medically evacuated) back to the medical reception station or hospital.

He said: “If anyone gets injured or hurt on this part of the exercise, I ensure casualties get the best possible treatment forward, which enables the combat soldiers to get on with their jobs safe in the knowledge they will be looked after if something goes wrong.

“The heat can be quite oppressive in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest. The battlegroup has minimised movement at the hottest times of the day to lower any risk of heat injuries. However, it’s the wind and blowing sand that causes most discomfort. Our issued eye protection is essential.”

The medics have been cultivating strong relations with their counterparts in the Royal Oman Army with joint training serials taking place in both camps. The Wildcat helicopter has proven itself as a great asset to both armies, meeting every challenge.

“Chatting to our Omani opposite numbers has been really interesting. They do things slightly differently from us, but we can learn lots from them as well,” said LCpl Jobson-Wood.

Combat readiness

Ex KO19 is an important milestone in the Army’s Collective Training Transformation Programme (CTTP), which seeks to enhance the training infrastructure to provide more challenging environments in which to experiment and be tested.

It also demonstrates the combat readiness and adaptability of a warfighting battlegroup and its ability to respond quickly to crises around the world.

The UK has a long-established defence relationship with Oman, with strong bonds and shared values and Ex KO19 follows hot on the heels of Ex SAIF SAREEA 3, late last year - the largest joint exercise of its kind for 15 years.