Junglie Team Medic Trainng
The sound of explosions and gunfire screams through the air as Junglies from the Commando Helicopter Force (CHF) come under enemy fire as they attempt to recover an aircraft that has been hit by enemy fire. This is one of the scenarios the Junglies have to contemplate and train for – a scenario that could have materialised for a number of engineers in 2009 when they recovered a Sea King helicopter from 846 Naval Air Squadrons which had been hit by a Taliban Rocket Propelled Grenade. Whilst there were no serious injuries sustained in the initial attack it is in these scenarios that CHF aviators, engineers, and royal marines receive Team Medic Training.
The aim of the training is to ensure Junglies are able to provide immediate medical assistance to their comrades. To achieve these demanding standards and to prepare for deployments to Afghanistan it is the responsibility of the CHF medical team, led by CPO MA Jim Hopkins, to provide a scenario that replicates an incident in Theatre.
To make the training as realistic as possible, personnel had to treat real amputee casualties “It brings a real sense of realism.” said Jim. “The amputees certainly enhance the training we can give to our guys. This is about eliminating the shock factor: The initial pregnant pause can make all the difference in saving a life.”
The amputee actors are made up with gory imitation blood and have their missing limbs dressed up to resemble traumatic wounds.
“After the initial attack by the Taliban a cordon is put in place and the guys work fast to apply pressure to the femoral artery to stem initial bleeding. They then have to treat the injury and apply a tourniquet to control the circulation.” explained CPO Hopkins.” On Operations, each individual carries two tourniquets. This simple band was considered old fashioned 20 years ago bit it is now back and is saving lives. When the guys take part in this training they have no idea what to expect. It’s as real as we can make it.”
Amputee in Action (AIA) is the UK’s largest collection of trained professional amputee actors. They use their personal trauma experience to enable graphic realism for military and emergency services training.
Nick Pool lost his right leg an accident at sea when he was serving in the navy. He has been acting for 5 years. “I really enjoy it.” said Nick as he received a top up of scarlet imitation blood. “I see it as giving something back. As an ex navy lad I appreciate how useful this training will be. When I lost my leg the person who saved my life was reassuring and totally professional. The medics changed me from a gibbering wreck to being rather calm. I believe that saved my life.”
The acting skills of the AIA are very impressive. They each roll around, screaming and groaning as the Junglies attempt to calm them and apply emergency treatment to stop the haemorrhaging. They certainly do not make it easy for the trainees who are constantly being assessed by the CHF Medics. If they fail to communicate with the actors they will drift into unconsciousness or panic and fight off those that are trying to treat them.
“The amputees can actually see things that we have missed.” Said LMA Joel Magory, who is assessing and training both sailors and royal marines. “They are able to tell us what the treatment was like. The drill is all about saving lives. In combat it is more likely that the person who saves your life will be the person stood next to you as the medics could be further back, so everyone needs to have these skills. There is an incredible survival rate in Theatre and that is down to the first initial treatment received in the field.”
Lieutenant John Ford, who is preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan in June for the first time explained, “Working on the amputees is something totally new. It is incredible how real it all feels. It may have been training but when you are carrying out the drills and come face to face with the casualty, it certainly focuses your mind.”