Sunday, February 21, 2010
Captain Anna Crossley QARANC. Inkerman Company, Grenadier Guards
Sharzad, Central Helmand, is a long way from the green hills of the Brecon Beacons but here I am, the first female Nursing Officer the Grenadiers have ever had! It’s taken them a bit of time to get used to the idea, but the lads will pop in to see me to discuss any problems they have or just have a chat. I hope this shows that they have accepted me as part of the team.
I'd already spent three months working in Bastion, so I've come across pretty much every type of injury you can imagine, which is extremely useful preparation for this job out at the Patrol Base where every injury, no matter how serious, will be initially dealt with by me and my team.
The soldiers here have been busy for the last few weeks. Before Op Moshtarak kicked off last weekend they were carrying out what we call ‘shaping’ operations – basically setting up and reinforcing checkpoints in the area to deny the insurgents freedom of movement. And this week they have been full tilt on Op Moshtarak going beyond the original frontline into Taliban held territory.
Back at base the majority of the work I do is primary care: treating minor ailments and making sure the troops are combat effective, that is to say, they are not prevented from doing their job by illnesses and ailments. But we are always at a high state of readiness to deal with more serious injuries.
We maintain constant contact with the Operations Room so that we are prepared to receive the patients when they arrive, but if I hear a loud bang I will always pop next door to see if we are going to be needed.
I have a team of combat medics who are on the ground and work as part of the patrolling teams. They are first on the scene and play a vital role in delivering first aid in the crucial first few minutes when something happens.
Sharzad was the original American HQ for the team that led the irrigation scheme in the 1950s. It was this scheme that created the fertile ‘Green Zone’ that runs down the Helmand River valley today. So the building we operate from is a solid 1950s brick and stone build, with all the original plans, drawings and records still here.
The facility we run is unique within the UK context. It is effectively a mini Accident and Emergency Department and we carry an extensive range of specialist kit to be able to treat people in this location. We also stabilise any more serious casualties for forward transit to Camp Bastion, and the full working hospital that is located there.
Life is busy, but the job satisfaction when we save a life out here is immeasurable.
Patrol Base Sharzad, Grenadier Guards