From Camp Bastion to Elvington airfield

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ANYONE visiting Elvington airfield over the weekend could be forgiven for thinking they’d stumbled across a warzone.

Army medics from Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Strensall erected a huge tented field hospital at the airfield, complete with resuscitation bays and intensive care wards, to keep their skills sharp.

The current field hospital in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, is a permanent structure and so there has been no need for the medics to set up a tented field hospital.

To keep themselves familiar with the procedures, around 100 members of the 34 Field Hospital unit decided to set up its tentage, unpacking it from containers to check it and familiarise all the staff with its layout.

The hospital consists of two six-bed wards, two resuscitation bays, an operating theatre, two intensive care beds and an isolation ward.

In addition, there is also a dental surgery, pathology laboratory and other support services. However, extra wards can be added if needed.

The field hospital was augmented by staff from all three services based at Ministry of Defence Hospital Units throughout the UK.

Lieutenant Colonel Tim Davies, who oversaw the major exercise, said: “Just as you would check the family tent and equipment before using it, we are doing the same but on a grander scale.

“It is important that we maintain the skills of erecting the tentage, perfect the layout and know how to use the special ruggedised equipment to deliver the world-class standards of medical care expected of us. I was an officer commanding the Hospital Squadron when we set up the last field hospital eight years ago, so I have experienced this before.

“In terms of this exercise I have been pleased with the way the reinforcement personnel have worked. They have been really focused on the task. “

The medics worked through a number of scenarios and other medical personnel and amputees acted as ‘casualties’ to test the procedures.

The casualties arrived on foot, by military ambulance and even on a Lynx military helicopter.

The exercise was overseen by directing staff from 2 Medical Brigade, also based in Strensall, and was visited by a number of senior Armed Forces medical personnel.

The field hospital was supported by several facilities including a field shower unit, washing machine, generators and a field kitchen.