6 RIFLES Medics are deployed to Armenia on a Defence Engagement task, working alongside the Kansas National Guard in order to deliver medical training to the Armenian Fire Service. Private (Pte) Rachel Ward highlights her initial impression of the deployment so far.
The 26th was the last day that we would spend teaching at our fire stations, once again the chiefs put on food and drinks to thank us for the work that we had done. This was also a good opportunity for us to congratulate and celebrate what had been achieved in such a short space of time. We were able to present each fire station with a certificate of achievement and with a few photographs that we had taken whilst we had been there, which marked the friendships that we had made.
After the 8 days of training we put together a final exercise where they got to show off all the skills they have learnt. The Exercise was held at Akhuryan and included a car, a fire and a collapsed building with numerous casualties and a chlorine leak. First we had to prepare all our casualties with casualty simulation moulages which looked really effective. Pte Cox took command in prepping and organising all the ingredients (all locally sourced), then a few other soldiers helped her moulage the casualties, making their wounds look realistic. Injuries included catastrophic bleeding, a leg fracture, head injury and general cuts and bruises.
Once the VIPs had arrived we placed our casualties in their positions and then the moment arrived, the fire was lit! We stood back until the fire-fighters had put out the fire and then the fire-fighters started their medicals skills on the injured. A few of us went along side watching them work; overlooking what they were doing to make sure they were following the correct procedure.
Pte Cox was with the fire-fighter who had a catastrophic bleed to the upper left leg. Everything the fire-fighter did to the casualty was correct and it was a great to see how effectively they worked as a team. LCpl Lake took control of the triage and ambulance handover where they used handover skills they learnt from the ATMIST lessons that week. Once the medical side of things were handled the CBRN element took place which again ran really smoothly using all skills we had trained them to use. They set up their CBRN bays and washed and prepped there casualties correctly for the medical staff.
The weather was so hot all the fire-fighters were sweating so much in all their gear! But to see the pride in their faces was really rewarding. Once the exercise had finished we had group photos and the VIPS said a few words regarding all the hard work we’ve put in over the last couple of weeks. We were able to present the Minister of Emergency Situations with a 6 Rifles plaque to remember us by. We were also all presented with bottles of wine as a thank you present; unfortunately a couple of bottles themselves became casualties on the plane journey home, leaving us reeking of wine.
It felt really good to watch the exercise go exactly to plan and to see how far they had come in just 2 weeks of training! I hope they will continue to practice their training and pass it on to other fire-fighters so they all have that extended knowledge of medical and CBRN training. Overall its exercises like this that make us 6 Rifles soldiers and proud to be a medics.
We then all travelled back to the capital, Yerevan, where spirits were high as we were all very pleased with what we had managed to achieve. That evening it was time to have a few farewell drinks before say goodbye to the Americans and translators that we had been working with.
We returned to Wyvern Barracks as more knowledgeable, confident and resilient medics. We are so thankful to everyone who supported us and made this trip possible and hope that we will be able to further develop the links between 6 Rifles and the Kansas National Guard and 6 Rifles and Armenia.
By Pte Ward (with a little help from Pte Cox, LCpl Lake, Cpl Pike and Cpl Scott)