Southmead Hospital nurse encourages others to consider the Royal Air Force Reserves

Friday, 15 September 2017

Last weekend members of staff took part in the South West NHS Military Challenge.

The event, hosted by 243 (Wessex) Field Hospital, invited NHS staff to discover what it is like to be a military medic for the weekend. Sixteen teams from NHS trusts across the South West got involved in physical and mental activities provided by the regions’ reservists from the Royal Navy and Marines, Army and Royal Air Force (RAF) Reserves.

Intensive Care Unit nurse at Southmead Hospital, James Iddon is encouraging medical staff to consider the RAF reserves after his rewarding experience as a reservist.

James Iddon, ICU nurse and RAF reservist

James signed up to be an RAF reservist six years ago when he was a newly qualified nurse. James is part of the 4626 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, based at RAF Brize Norton.

They provide care in the air to injured troops, both to field hospital and home to the UK. The RAF runs a constant Aeromedical Evacuation service worldwide and reservists train to be deployed anywhere in the world.

In 2013, James had his first deployment to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. We supported this and James was able to work in Afghanistan for six months.

James said: “Being deployed was a huge culture change, and then resettling back into civilian life was quite a challenge. However, the transition both from civilian life to Afghanistan and from Afghanistan back to civilian life was managed well by the RAF.

“It was a great experience. I learnt a lot both medically and about myself. I missed the move into the Brunel building though, so I left Frenchay for my deployment, and then started back up at NBT in Brunel! It was like a new job but with the same people.”

The military require medical reservists with the clinical skills needed for critical situations, so James found that his experience in a major trauma centre was of great help.

James said: “If you understand that there’s physical training involved and that you will have to bear arms, then I would encourage anyone to do it. It’s incredibly rewarding and the marriage of skillsets is brilliant. It’s made me a better nurse.”

As an RAF reservist, you have to meet a basic requirement of six weekends a year and a fifteen day period of continuous mandatory training. We are supportive of staff who need to take time off for the mandatory training. Reservists are able to pick where they can fit their reservist work around their work and personal requirements.

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