NURSE David Kerridge has swapped a city hospital to run the busiest trauma unit on earth.
Ten years ago the 45-year-old, from Emsworth, decided to take on a new challenge and put his skills to the test by joining the Territorial Army.
He is now a major and on his third overseas operation with the Portsmouth Detachment of the specialist medical unit, 243 (Wessex) Field Hospital (Volunteers) in Afghanistan.
Last week, Maj Kerridge deployed with 48 colleagues on a three-month mission to run the medical facility at Camp Bastion, the sprawling base in Helmand Province, which is the main headquarters of UK military operations in Afghanistan.
While there he will be the officer commanding the emergency department. He said: ‘Essentially, I’ll be at the front door of the hospital triaging casualties and taking them to wherever they need to go within the hospital. It’s going to be a busy role.’
As an emergency planning officer for Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Trust and part-time A&E nurse at St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester, Maj Kerridge will take a wealth of knowledge and experience with him to the role. He’s also hoping to bring back new ideas from the field hospital.
‘The two jobs complement each other,’ said Maj Kerridge.
‘Whether I’m learning something in the military world that I can take back to the civilian world or vice versa, there’s a huge amount of cross-pollination.
‘Certainly, the mindset in the military is very “can do and will do”, especially on deployment, and I bring that attitude back home.’
The field hospital at Camp Bastion is called a Role 3 medical facility and is often descried as one of the busiest trauma units on earth. It’s also one of the most advanced.
Uniquely, it’s a consultant-led hospital, with each patient being cared for by more consultants than they would back in Britain.
It has all the facilities found in a civilian hospital in the UK with an emergency department, operating theatres, wards, X-ray and pathology laboratories.
Of all those brought back seriously injured from the battlefield to the Role 3 hospital at Camp Bastion, 98 per cent of them will survive.