Exercises

Forming Closer Ties Between American And British Army Medics

It is hoped that joint British-American medical training will become a regular event, developing the medics' partnership.

British Army medics' working relationship with their American counterparts is getting much closer.

Each country detaches personnel into the other's field hospitals with the aim to increase co-operation.

The latest joint training has involved reservists from Britain's 2nd Medical Brigade and full-time medics of the US 30th Medical Brigade.

They have to act in a fictional scenario involving a suspected chlorine gas attack.

Victims are arriving at a US Field Hospital and the medics have to act rapidly. Without treatment, their patients could die within thirty minutes.

It is all part of routine training for personnel in the American 212th Combat Support Hospital.

But the team doesn't normally include reservists from the National Health Service.

BFG US MEDICS RO

In her day job, Corporal Diane King is an intensive care nurse at Manchester Royal Infirmary.

Cpl King was very impressed by what she saw: “The way they managed that situation I thought was very good.

"The way you had designated teams for each patient and it was approached quickly so you had the anaesthetist right at the head.”

A big challenge is that while both countries speak English, medical terminology isn't always the same.

As Private Lauren Hickman, from 212 Field Hospital, noted: “You've just got to put two and two together so I was scribing, and I had to make sure I confirmed what they meant.”

The same language barrier applies to Americans attached to a British Field Hospital.

One of the US medics who has had to adapt is Specialist Jrew Simmons, from 212th Combat Support Hospital: “I'm over here with the British and they are saying hand me this that and a third and I'm like 'we call it this that and a fourth. I don't know what you're talking about'.

"Same thing when they're over there. We have a different name for it.

"Even theatre. For us 'theatre' means you're out. You're out in war. You're fully deployed. Theatre here is the operating room.”

Specialist Aaaron Nunez is impressed that so many British medics work in civilian hospitals: "I find it kind of neat that they work in the NHS and then on the side they work with the military. 

"They are not like full-time military because they go back home and they get a sense of normality being back home and working a regular job. 

"Then once they come out here, that's when they go into like full military mode, whereas we're just in it all the time.”

BFG US MEDICS RO

The joint exercise, called Integrated Serpent, is being run in Germany at Britain's Sennelager Training Area.

212 Field Hospital's Commander Lieutenant Colonel Chris Mason says it has produced many lessons: “One of the functions we're trying to take away from this is actually almost a booklet that says if you are indeed co-located with our American colleagues, these are useful tips. 

"Indeed vice-versa, if you're US and co-located with the UK, this is what you need to look for.”

BFG US MEDICS RO

One person who will never forget her experience with the Americans is Private Charlotte Dale.

It has persuaded the Accident and Emergency Nurse from Sheffield to join the Army permanently: “I enjoy the team, putting my uniform on, being a part of this team and representing the British Army.

"I love nursing so to be able to put those two together would make me really happy. So I need to go back and speak to my family now.”

There are strong expectations that British and American medics will develop their partnership.

The hope now is that American-British joint medical training becomes a regular event.