A day in the Life of the Ambulance Response Team
The Ambulance Response Team’s (ART) primary role is the movement of all casualties from NIGHTINGALE Helicopter Landing Site (HLS) to the Role 3 (UK) Hospital. Sergeant Hayley Allen talks about a typical day.
As the night shift leave for some well earned sleep the day shift start with a full kit check. The drivers have to ‘first parade’ their ambulance while the medics check the serviceability of their medical equipment. A mundane and tedious task some may say, but essential to ensure that the casualty can be received using the correct equipment and moved swiftly in a suitable vehicle.
On completion of the checks, an hour or so later, it is time for a brew and chat. The conversation is routine small talk. However, the Q word is never mentioned. The ART have learned that if someone mentions that the day has been ‘quiet’, a curse is put upon them and it becomes the exact opposite.
The phone rings and the crew wait. A brief conversation with the UK Medical Group casualty coordinator, and details of a tasking have been passed.
‘10 minutes out on MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team) landing’
The five minute notice to move (NTM) team prepare and leave the crew room. Sirens and Lights on they head off to the HLS. Soon after their arrival the Joint US and RAF Fire Crews arrive to assist.
As the Chinook lands clouds of dust are thrown into the air making it difficult to focus and breath. The fire crew are called forward with the medic and remove the casualty from the doctor leading the MERT. The medic tasks the MIST report from the crew:
M – Mechanism of injury
I – Injuries sustained
S – Signs and Symptoms
T – Treatment given
It is imperative the medic gets the correct information. Their hand over to the team in the Emergency Department can save time when the casualty is being assessed. The casualty is secured in the ambulance and the medic joins them in the back. Once the doors are closed, on go the sirens again to clear the path to the hospital. A minute later they arrive under the cover, at the hospital entrance, and are directed by the Regimental Sergeant Major of the hospital. The hospital has a team ready to remove the casualty from the ambulance and into the Emergency Department. The procedure is slick with no time being lost. It is described by the Commanding Officer of the hospital as a Formula 1 Pit Stop procedure, fast, professional and incredibly well rehearsed. The medic follows the patient in to the hospital and gives their MIST report to the doctor in charge. Once handed over the, ART’s job with this casualty is finished.
The 16 strong team is ably led by SSgt ‘Johno’ Johnson. Johno said: “the first 24hrs were a real reality check where we were constantly being tasked. In fact the first week was the busiest since May. The guys and girls had not grasped the full appreciation of their role and to most it was a shock. However, they have integrated well and are working great as a team. At times some need the support of their team, particularly when they have had a tough day. But we all come together and it works well”
Additional tasks conducted by the ART include routine Medical Covers, movement of casualties for evacuation and repatriation ceremonies. This latter is particularly difficult for those involved as the emotions can run high. LCpl Reynolds said: “Although my role in the repatriation of British soldiers is minimal, I have never felt so much pressure. I am there to provide as service to the soldier and his unit and it is essential that I get it right. That said it is a great honour to drive and escort a fallen colleague to their repatriation ceremony.”