May 2020 / News

How Veterans Are Supporting Frontline Medical Response

Kim Ewart

Deputy Contract Manager

Help For Heroes NHS

As the world continues its global flight against COVID19, it was interesting to see an article recently highlighting the continuing British attitude of assisting others during this crisis.

Military veterans have coordinated with the charity Help 4 Heroes to produce a toolkit for NHS staff on the frontline fighting this pandemic, hoping to inspire by sharing lessons learnt from military combat. The toolkit called ‘Field Guide to Self-Care’ focuses on the 3 main elements (Body, Mind, Emotion) considered priorities in maintaining personal wellbeing whilst dealing with extreme stress on a daily basis.  With input also from the World Health Organisation (WHO), it can be found here.

The military is a well-oiled machine that runs like clockwork.  Personnel in the military often face unusually high stress levels, unsociable hours, long periods away from family and potentially threatening circumstances.

Research from King’s College highlighted by the charity Combat Stress suggest 17% of Iraq and Afghan veterans who served in combat developed PTSD, compared with 6% in support roles.

The article mentions similarities to the military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, not least the comparison of NHS Nightingale to a military field hospital given the high number of daily life-and-death situations the NHS front line staff find themselves facing.

There are various military techniques that can be used in stressful situations, one particularly important one is Trauma Risk Management, or TRiM as it is widely known. TRiM has many benefits such as being able to identify early signs of potential difficulties and signpost individuals to further support if required. As it is a peer-led form of risk assessment, small groups of individuals that have experienced the same kind of trauma can be arranged to have TRiM assessments together, enabling talk amongst peers.

At Hart, our work is predominately in unstable hostile environments that can have a profound effect on our staff. One of the ways we recognised this was by investing in our staff last year as TRiM practitioners.

Hart is proud to have offered additional support to the government during this crisis. Our thoughts are with the NHS staff and other medical teams around the world who are managing daily risk and stress to help save lives.