91 Personnel from Hampshire’s 22 Field Hospital boarded two coaches shortly before midnight on Wednesday 15th October leaving Aldershot to help combat the spread of Ebola in West Africa.
Among the 91 deploying to Sierra Leone were General Nurses, Medical Technicians, Specialist Nurses, Doctors, Infectious Disease Consultants as well as Drivers, Chefs, Administrators and Logistical Staff the assortment of trades and professions required to deliver the necessary means by which to take on the deadly disease.
The troops will operate the 12 bed healthcare workers’ treatment facility located in Kerrytown about 50km from the capital, Freetown.
22 Field Hospital’s Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel Alison McCourt explained, “This unit has been the ‘Vanguard’ medical regiment for the past 20 months which means we are on high readiness to deploy at short notice to anywhere in the world – although this is a bit different and provides us with a challenge we are perfectly suited to this kind of task. I firmly believe we can make a significant difference and it will be professionally rewarding for those taking part.”
22 Field Hospital is augmented with medical specialists from both the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force and has pulled in highly and specifically skilled staff from the Ministry of Defence Hospital Units at nearby (to Aldershot) Frimley Park and Portsmouth as well as other parts of the country.
Leading up to their deployment, 22 Field Hospital had undergone a nine-day intensive training package at the Army Medical Services Training Centre in Strensall, Yorkshire. Here the troops were presented with life-like scenarios with people acting out and made up as though they were displaying all the symptoms of an infected person.
In summing up what the Commanding Officer believes will be the key achievement for her troops in Sierra-Leone she said, “We need to provide sufficient reassurance to healthcare workers that will encourage them to come and help defeat this disease.”