Lisa s Diary 2014 Captain Lisa Irwin Captain Lisa Irwin is a REME Reserve Officer currently on a three-year Full Time Reserve Service commitment with the Defence Cultural Specialist Unit. She has spent 15 months learning Pashto and Dhari before deploying to Camp Bastion to be the 2 IC of a team of medical personnel set up to mentor Afghan medical personnel. This is her third tour of Afghanistan and her second blog, as she blogged during her last tour in 2010/2011, when she was deployed as a Female Engagement Team Commander.
7 Mar The past week has been a challenging one for the ANSF Med Dev Team and a tiring one for me. We have been busy with routine visits to Shorabak when possible but also busy doing some reactive mentoring. The Shorabak hospital has been relatively quiet so the guys in the team carried out teaching on things such as airway management rather than direct patient care and encouraged the Afghan medics to carry out necessary reorganisation of equipment.
Whilst the guys were teaching my role was a little interpreting, chatting to everyone to maintain relationships and assisting in teaching. I had a book of Afghan poetry which was written in Pashto, and I showed it to some of the patients as I know that poetry is an important part of Afghan culture. They were surprised that I had such a book and even more surprised that I could to read it.
I read some poems to patients who were unable to read (in the past many Afghans were unable to attend school) and they really appreciated it. It was such a simple thing but elicited a warm response from everyone in the hospital, patients and staff alike. VIP visit Ed Milliband (left) visited the hospital at Camp Bastion.
We had a VIP visitor to our team in March. Ed Milliband was visiting Bastion and as he was coming to the hospital he visited our team due to our mission being considered important. He seemed a personable man and listened intently as my OC, Fletch, explained exactly what we do and introduced the rest of the team.
He seemed interested in our role but I am sure that is a skill that all politicians quickly develop! Preparing for surgery As the week progressed the ANA were due to start a large military operation and therefore we started to prepare for a potential increase in casualties. As the casualties started to come in I was frequently called in to the hospital to be there as the casualties were brought in by helicopter.
Once the casualties arrived I waited for the doctors to decide if the casualties could be treated at Shorabak, or remain in Bastion, for those who could be transferred I co-ordinated the transfer of the casualties to Shorabak. Some of them were suitable to be transferred without the team going over to mentor and others required mentoring. Our aim is to take over cases that are slightly complex and useful for us to mentor in order to increase the Afghan doctors knowledge and confidence, but not so complicated that they may be overwhelmed or not yet have the capabilities needed.
The current set-up is a bit like a field hospital, and the new hospital being built will not be ready before July, so it would not be fair to the doctors or the patients to send over cases that are currently too complex. One of the first suitable casualties required abdominal surgery, and the operation was more complex than had been done at Shorabak before. However, the patient was assessed to be stable and suitable for transfer.
We decided to take over only the team members that were needed, rather than the whole team, and gained permission to stay over slightly later than normal (our working hours in Shorabak can be restricted depending on the security situation). So the smaller team, with our Force Protection, headed over. When we arrived at the hospital the casualty was already in the operating theatre being prepared for surgery so the surgical team scrubbed up and went in to mentor the ANA doctors carrying out the operation.
Meanwhile one of our nurses and I went in to the ward to see how many patients there were and make sure everything was up to date. I chatted to the medics and patients that were there, including two patients who remembered me talking to them in the Emergency Department in Bastion hospital I suppose a blonde, white woman speaking to them in Pashto probably makes me quite easy to remember! As the operation progressed I was frequently checking on progress to see if we were going to be OK for time.
I also reminded the Afghan medics that they needed to prepare a bed space for the patient to return to when he came out of theatre, with oxygen, monitoring equipment and other such things that a complicated post-op patient would need. Once the surgery was complete, the patient was taken to his post operative bed for overnight monitoring and care, and we were able to return to Bastion the team satisfied with a job well done. The drive back to Bastion was slightly surreal as I had never driven through Camp Shorabak in the dark before but other than feeling slightly more vulnerable we didn t encounter any problems.
8 Mar 2014 Talking to a patient on one of the ANA hospital wards at Camp Shorabak. The next day was almost a repeat of the previous day, with several more casualties coming through, some of whom remained in Bastion hospital and some of whom were transferred to Shorabak. Of the ones transferred to Shorabak another required abdominal surgery so again the team was stood up to go over and mentor the case.
This time the as the surgery was ongoing there was another casualty with a gunshot wound to deal with, so three of us cleaned, irrigated and dressed his wound. We then moved him to the ward but no sooner had we done that than word came through on the radio that the Afghans were bringing in 3 seriously ill casualties evacuated by their own helicopter. Immediately I started chivvying the Afghan medics to make sure the Emergency Department was set up to receive them as the medics haven t yet fully grasped the concept of preparation and tend to be more reactionary.
At the same time I had to keep an eye on how the surgery was progressing as I was aware that we had a limited time in Shorabak. Eventually it became clear that the operation wasn t progressing as planned and that we needed to take the casualty back to the hospital in Bastion, and at this stage there was no sign of the Afghan casualties. So after numerous phone calls and radio messages we loaded the casualty into an ambulance and we all returned to Bastion.
Casevac d for needing to pee! The next morning as I sat at breakfast reflecting on the past 2 long days my phone rang again as more ANSF casualties were en route. No relaxing breakfast for me then as I headed in to work.
There had been an IED incident that resulted in a number of casualties and some were on their way to Bastion. On arrival the most seriously injured were immediately taken in to the Role 3 Hospital Emergency Department for assessment and treatment but one casualty appeared to have only minor injuries so he remained in the ambulance while he was assessed, as it appeared likely that he could be transferred straight to Shorabak. However, although the assessing doctor couldn t find any obvious injuries the casualty was still grimacing in pain.
Unfortunately due to the number of casualties all the interpreters were busy with other injured Afghans and so I climbed into the ambulance to speak to him to see if I could find out where he was in pain. Quite quickly I discovered the source of his extreme discomfort .he had an extremely full bladder and was desperate for the toilet! Once he had been able to pass urine he was absolutely fine (apart from a slightly sore back).
Possibly the first time someone has been casevac d for needing to pee! After yet another full and busy day I eventually crawled in to bed, exhausted. I suppose this is how my life is going to be for the next few months, with me taking advantage of any breaks I can get but acutely aware that I can be called in at any time.
I wouldn t have it any other way though as I enjoy the challenge and variety that the role can bring and I really enjoy being able to interact with the Afghan personnel and hopefully positively influence them. It may be small steps but I really do feel that my job, and more importantly the work of all of the ANSF Med Dev Team, is making a positive difference. Pt1: Lisa s Diary 1 2014 Pt2: Lisa s Diary 2 2014 Pt3: Lisa s Diary 3 2014 Read Lisa s previous blogs from 2010/2011: L isa s Diary 1: October-December 2010 4 Lisa s Diary 2: January-March 2011 5 This entry was posted in 102 Bn REME (V) 6 , Army 7 , REME 8 , TA , TFH HQ 9 and tagged Afghanistan 10 , Bastion 11 , camp bastion 12 , captain 13 , casualties 14 , Cultural Specialist 15 , dari 16 , DCSU 17 , Emergency Department 18 , female 19 , H19/20 20 , Helmand 21 , HelmandProvince 22 , HERRICK 23 , Hospital 24 , interpreter 25 , ISAF 26 , linguist 27 , Lisa 28 , lisa irwin 29 , Medic 30 , Medical 31 , medical development 32 , mentor 33 , nurses 34 , nursing 35 , pashto 36 , REME 37 , reservist 38 , shorabak 39 , soldier 40 , surgeon 41 , surgery 42 , surgical 43 , training 44 .
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References ^ Training Afghan Medics: The Language of Healing (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Training Afghan Medics: The Language of Healing Pt2 (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Training Afghan Medics: The Language of Healing Pt3 (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Lisa s Diary 1: October-December 2010 (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Lisa s Diary 2: January-March 2011 (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ View all posts in 102 Bn REME (V) (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ View all posts in Army (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ View all posts in REME (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ View all posts in TFH HQ (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Afghanistan (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Bastion (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ camp bastion (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ captain (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ casualties (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Cultural Specialist (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ dari (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ DCSU (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Emergency Department (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ female (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ H19/20 (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Helmand (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ HelmandProvince (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ HERRICK (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Hospital (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ interpreter (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ ISAF (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ linguist (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Lisa (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ lisa irwin (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Medic (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Medical (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ medical development (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ mentor (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ nurses (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ nursing (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ pashto (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ REME (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ reservist (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ shorabak (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ soldier (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ surgeon (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ surgery (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ surgical (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ training (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Permalink to Training Afghan Medics: The Language of Healing Pt4 (britisharmy.wordpress.com)
Irish President Michael D Higgins inspected the tribute to Irish soldiers which has been given pride of place in Windsor Castle. On the second day of his historic state visit, he and his wife Sabina viewed the colours of the British Army regiments which were disbanded when Ireland gained its independence. They were given pride of place in a stairway entrance to Windsor Palace in 1922 so everyone could see them, at the insistence of King George V.
The colours, which honour the service of Irish soldiers in the First World War and other times of battle have never been moved from their permanent setting except when the 1992 Windsor fire threatened to destroy them. Needs must, we took them out, the Duke of York, who is colonel-in-chief of the Royal Irish Regiment, told president Higgins and his wife. They have been held at Windsor since the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, when the six regiments of the British Army from its terrotory were disbanded.
In a message to all six regiments at the time, King George V said: The colours are to be preserved and held in reverence at Windsor Castle as a perpetual record of your noble exploits in the field . The presidential couple looked over the colours of the Royal Irish Regiment (which had its origins in 1684 and was among those regiments disbanded in 1922), as well as the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, the Connaught Rangers, the Prince of Wales Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians), and the Royal Munster Fusiliers. The South Irish Horse did not have a colour.
There were roughly 58,000 Irish soldiers in the British Army at the start of the First World War, and more volunteered during the conflict. Tens of thousands were killed. Later in the day, President Higgins met with Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street.
Last night, the presidential couple attended a banquet at Guildhall given by the Lord Mayor and the City of London Corporation.
Lance Corporal Kayleigh Compson, Corps of Army Music Lance Corporal Kayleigh Compson is currently assigned to the Band of the Scots Guards, part of the Corps of Army Music. She is normally seen in red tunic and bearskin on major ceremonial events around London but volunteered to go to Ethiopia with a Corps of Army Music Short Term Training Team. Week 1 What we did for music in Ethiopia On day one the Ethiopian National Defence Force Band (ENDFB) were on the parade square demonstrating their marching band and Corps of Drums.
This helped establish a starting point for training and areas that we could develop and expand upon. We were very impressed with their marching and how they played together as a band. The Corps of Drums was very polished and impressive.
This led us to break down into smaller groups for sectional rehearsals. Instrument maintenance is very basic within the band, so we also each gave a lesson on how to clean and look after instruments correctly, and to make best use of equipment they have within their stores. On the second day our Bandmaster Warrant Officer Class Justin Teggarty gave the ENDF Band a Power Point presentation on CAMUS, our role and the effect of Western military music.
They were all interested in learning about our bands and asked lots of questions afterwards about the different groups which the army has and were very pleased to see that the British army had pop groups. We then all came together and had our first full band rehearsal. We had brought along the hymn Abide With Me the band played this extremely well.
Their own conductor conducted this piece and the Bandmaster would give useful points how to rehearse a band to get the best out of the musicians. Next day arrived and we could hear all the sections practising the warm-ups we had gone through with them on the Tuesday. This was very pleasing to hear.
The morning was spent with the BM giving them an insight into Western music. They enjoyed learning out how our music had evolved and they liked listening to our music over the years. We then went out on the parade square and the Lance Sergeant took them through some drill.
This included slow marching and breaking into quick time, without any instruments. Week 2 Solos were outstanding On the following Monday morning we were introduced to their Big Band. The Ethiopian band has a great passion for jazz and big band music so we thought we would give them In The Mood (Glenn Miller) to learn and work on.
After lunch we briefed the band about the Flashmob idea (Something CAMUS has successfully delivered across the UK in 2013) and they were all really keen to do it. Their CO Colonel Kilbrom, had the perfect place for them to perform, and everyone including the staff were excited The big band were putting their final touches to In The Mood . They clearly had been practising as the piece sounded great and the solos were outstanding.
We then took the Big band outside and they performed it to the remainder of the band. This was the first time they had performed a new ensemble to their peers and it went down a storm. ENDFB Big Band rehearsing Glenn Miller s In The Mood.
During the trip the ENDF Band made history, and performed their flashmob at the Ethiopian National Defence Force Army Ground Force Headquarters. Once we arrived at the camp the band got into their positions and hid from the rest of the camp. I started off with a drummers call to sound that something was happening.
People came out of their offices, out of the coffee shop and surrounded the parade square. One off the Ethiopian Band drummers came to the centre of the parade square to play the solo at the start of Highland Cathedral . Section by section the band came out until eventually the whole band was there.
The flashmob was a great success and the band said they would do this again around the city. Three miles to get to school On one of our days off we travelled to the Menagesha Suba National Forest Park. This forest was the first National Park in Africa and dates back to the 15th century.
After almost three hours of travelling in our 4 4, we finally got to the forest. We then travelled a further 5kms through the forest by vehicle and then walked the rest of the way through the forest and up the mountains. The views were breathtaking from 3080m above sea level.
The air was very thin and we all admitted we found it harder to breath. Along the way we managed to get talking to some children who lived up in the mountains. They were more than happy showing us around, telling us about their lives in the mountains and how they have to walk three miles to get to school each day.
On the way back from the mountains we travelled through vast areas where transport was horse and cart, children were carrying wood for fires, women and children were walking for miles to get to the water pumps, carrying at least 3 water containers each. We all were extremely shocked, and the mood changed in the vehicle to be more subdued. We had only seen city life in Ethiopia so far, but today we saw what living in Africa is really like.
Week 3 We were now on our final week of the three-week tour this week was all about putting the final touches on to the performance that will be shown on Friday morning. We started off with full band where we were working on the Mask of Zorro. The band was only used to marching so all their music is played at the same tempo and in a similar style.
For the parade on Friday we wanted to start the marching display off with a fanfare. The fanfare we chose was from the opening of Olympiada by Samuel Hazo. The afternoon was spent with some new recruits from the Somali region of Ethiopia.
These recruits are based at the camp for two years to learn how to play an instrument, read music and march. The Bandmaster gave them a presentation on Practice and Performance . All the information was completely new to them but it was a presentation that will be a great help to them in the future.
This morning started off with a session of full band where we worked on the fanfare from the day before. This will be played outside on marching band so the percussion were trying to learn it off by heart. ENDFB Marching band rehearsal We then went outside and Lance Sergeant Vertigan took us through his ideas for the marching display.
The band hadn t really done any complex moves before so this was exciting for them. The Drum Majorettes had a lot of pressure on them for this display as they were leading the band. We had a recommendation from the embassy to go to an Ethiopian restaurant.
We were not disappointed when we got there. The food was amazing and an Ethiopian band and dancers performed all night, even when the power went out. We were all shocked at how energetic their dancing is and even a couple of us got up to have a go.
Our dancing didn t last very long as we soon realised we weren t very good at it. We all went home feeling extremely full and had a great evening. On our final day we all had mixed emotions.
We were all looking forward to the final ceremony but also knew that this was the end of a fantastic three weeks. Emotional goodbyes We had grown close to the band and were sad to be leaving them. We got to the camp and did a rehearsal of the ensemble pieces and the marching band.
The band then put on their extremely bright green and red uniforms and started warming up before the guests arrived. Lots of guests were coming to the show, including the Defence Attach of the British Embassy, Colonel Mike Scott. The Commanding Officer of the camp Colonel Kilbrom, all the training instructors of the band and all of the Somali Police recruits were there to watch.
The ensembles were played perfectly, we all couldn t have been more proud of them. The guests then had some traditional coffee while the band got ready for marching band. The marching band was a great success they had remembered everything we had taught them.
Their marching and the music were faultless. As the parade came to a close the Defence Attach presented some of the seniors of the band with some certificates we had made for the band. We then all went up one by one and got presented a traditional Ethiopian shirt, and the women also got a scarf.
We all were extremely grateful and humbled to be receiving gifts. The guests left and we were told to put on our gifts as we presented the band with our presentation. We had got them a CAMUS plaque and we had made a picture collage of photos we had taken throughout the three weeks.
They like the photos and were all keen to find themselves on it. It was then time to leave; we packed up our office and said some very emotional goodbyes. The STTT have had an amazing three weeks here in Ethiopia and we have all said we could come back here in a heartbeat.
Not only have we given our knowledge and experience to the band, we have made some great friends here. We all are looking forward to returning to the UK but secretly wish we were staying for longer. The Corps of Army Music Short Term Training Team Ethiopia 2014 Find out more about the Corps of Army Music 1 Read other Corps of Army Music blogs 2 This entry was posted in Army 3 , Band of the Scots Guards 4 , CAMus 5 and tagged Army 6 , Band 7 , British Army 8 , camus 9 , camus blog 10 , Career in music 11 , Corps of Army Music 12 , military 13 , music 14 , musician 15 , operations 16 .
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References ^ Corps of Army Music (www.army.mod.uk) ^ Corps of Army Music (CAMUS) (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ View all posts in Army (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ View all posts in Band of the Scots Guards (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ View all posts in CAMus (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Army (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Band (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ British Army (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ camus (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ camus blog (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Career in music (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Corps of Army Music (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ military (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ music (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ musician (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ operations (britisharmy.wordpress.com) ^ Permalink to Army music making in Ethiopia (britisharmy.wordpress.com)
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Army music making in Ethiopia