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Reserve Forces & Cadets Association
Northern Ireland


Northern Ireland TA Medics, Home from Afghanistan

29 April 2013

Volunteer soldiers with 204 (North Irish) Field Hospital return home to their families in Northern Ireland on Sat 27th April 2013 after three months in Afghanistan running the acute care hospital at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province.

As well as looking after the care of ISAF personnel the 30 Northern Ireland volunteers also provided support for Afghan national forces and on a number of occasions, local nationals.

Working alongside regulars and reservists from across the UK as well as medical staff from the US Army, US Marine Corps and Danish Armed Forces the NI reservists dealt with the whole spectrum of care including life changing injuries and on several occasions, fatal injuries.

And whilst the hospital in Camp Bastion sits within a large secure complex, it is not without its dangers. There was a ground attack on the base last September and a rocket attack in February.

The NI reservists represent all walks of life in Northern Ireland including medical, nursing and IT among others and brought with them to Afghanistan a range of skills and expertise.

Commanding Officer Colonel Alan Black says the Northern Ireland reservists are rightly proud of their achievements in Afghanistan and deserving of time now at home with their families. “I am sometimes asked what the differences are between regular and reserve personnel on operations. The answer is simple – there are none”, he said, “it just is not an issue given that the only consideration is whether the individual can do their job or not.

“I have never been asked by a patient whether the doctor or nurse treating them is regular or reserve. From the perspective of the seriously ill patient with the heart attack in the emergency department, or the soldier brought in from the battlefield with severe blast injuries from an improvised explosive device, their principle concern is that they should get the best possible care. This is exactly what they get and I have no doubt that many people were saved in Bastion who would simply have not survived elsewhere, and I even include here my own home town of Belfast.

“Each and every member of 204 Field Hospital who successfully gained a place on Op Herrick worked hard to get there, and would not have had it any other way.”