Volunteers from 16 NHS Hospitals across the South West took part in the South West NHS Military Challenge, organised by Army Reserves from 243 Field Hospital, with support from Reserve units across the South West and Wessex Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association.
The event, which was held at Okehampton Camp on Dartmoor, was attended by over 160 volunteers from 16 NHS Hospitals including; Musgrove Park Hospital, Dorset County Hospital and Bath Royal United Hospitals.
The event took place over the course of a weekend, with participants arriving on the Friday evening and leaving after the final challenge and the presentation to the winning team on the Sunday.
The challenge was designed to give NHS colleagues a taste of what it takes to be a Reservist in the Army Medical Corps. The challenges tested the teams physically whilst also testing skills like teamwork, self-reliance and leadership, as well as their medical knowledge. The winning team for a second year running was Salisbury District Hospital.
During the weekend the recruits rotated around a number of stands which were all run by South West based Reserve units. One stand, run by Reserves from 243 Field Hospital, tested how the teams cared for casualties in a simulated battlefield situation. Amputee actors were used in the simulation, which also included blank firing and smoke to help create realism.
Participant Michelle Lawrence, a Physiotherapist at Bath Royal United Hospitals, said about the team from her hospital; “We have doctors, physios’, lab technicians, ward clerks. It’s awesome, the camaraderie and you just learn so much about yourself.”
The weekend event was run purely by South West Reservists from the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, and demonstrated the enthusiasm, capability and skill of those who give up their spare time to carry out training with the Reserve Forces.
Commanding Officer of 243 Field Hospital said; “NHS people are critical to the delivery of this unit, as I pull upon the Trusts from across the South West.
“I am really pleased by the enthusiasm all the teams are putting into the challenge and can see they are getting a lot from it.”
Reservist Major Rose Chapman, who is also a nurse at Derriford Hospital, said about being a Reserve with 243 Field Hospital; “I did two tours of Afghanistan. It was the highlight of my nursing experience. I knew what I was going over there to do and I knew I wanted to be able to give something back.”
To find out more becoming a Reservist with 243 Field Hospital visit www.army.mod.uk/medical-services.