TWO navy medics have taken to the front line in Afghanistan to care for Royal Marines and soldiers on patrols in the warzone.
Leading Medical Assistant Lianne Spiby and Medical Assistant Lottie Payne have been working with British troops in Helmand for the last five months.
Both women, who serve in the Royal Navy, have been conducting an average of two or three patrols per day in areas where they face the threat of attack from the Taliban.
They have to carry a medical rucksack which weighs around three stone. But with the added weight of their body armour, rifle, ammunition and water, their equipment can weigh almost eight stone.
‘I didn’t expect ever to come here being in the navy,’ said Lianne.
‘It’s been a big shock to be taken out of the navy world and dropped in to a land environment. The learning curve is massive.’
Lottie, 26, works in the accident and emergency department at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Cosham, when she is living at home. To prepare her and Lianne for the realities of working in Afghanistan, the medics went on a training course at Royal Marines Base Chivenor which included three days dedicated to dealing with trauma patients.
Lottie, who is from Gosport, said: ‘Fortunately I haven’t had to deal with a major trauma while I’ve been out here, but if I did it would be different from what I do at home.’
The medics are due to return home from Afghanistan next week and were recently moved to the hospital in Camp Bastion for the tail-end of their deployment.
Lottie is spending her time between primary care and the Intensive Care Unit, and Lianne has taken on an admin and training role for junior medics in her team.
Lottie said: ‘It is great to get back to Bastion and see what happens after we’ve done our job on the ground. It’s so satisfying to see a patient through their hospital care to rehabilitation.’
The busy camp hospital cares for injured troops and local Afghan people who are injured.
Lianne, 25, from Portsmouth, said: ‘It’s always worst to see the local children coming through, but more than anyone they are very resilient and bounce back quicker than ever. They’re getting the best care in the world.’
Around 75 per cent of the medics currently serving in the Close Support Medical Regiment in Afghanistan are from within the Royal Navy.
They are drawn from across ships, shore establishments and the naval hospital units at QA, Portsmouth, and at Derriford Hospital in Devon.