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Lance Corporal Sophie Maynard with Immediate Past President Mike Bradley and on the left Sophie's Dad David Maynard who is also Vice President this yearRoyal Marines Band Service Lance Corporal Sophie Maynard gave us a fascinating insight into the role of MERT in the rapid and safe evacuation and treatment of wounded soldiers in Afghanistan.

The delivery of medical care to injured soldiers in Afghanistan is considered to be the best ever provided to deployed forces. The number of soldiers that have survived life-threatening injuries is the best in recorded history and testament to the expertise of the medical staff involved.

Before beginning an operation Commanders make plans, including what needs to be done if a soldier becomes unwell or injured. If a soldier is injured, the priority is to make the situation safe. This might mean defeating the enemy or moving the casualty to safety. Once safe, the casualty will receive treatment from a Buddy, Team Medic, CMT or RMO. Initial treatment is to stop bleeding and maintain the airway.

When a helicopter is needed

An assessment of the soldier's condition is made and if additional care is needed a request for assistance is made. The request for assistance is made by giving the casualty's location, nature of injury and priority for treatment. The information is quickly analysed and a response issued. If injuries are life-threatening, a helicopter will be launched. If the casualty is close to the hospital, an ambulance will be sent. If a helicopter is launched it might be necessary to move the casualty so that it can land safely. The helicopter medical team, also called a Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT), will then fly the casualty to the hospital. They use two Chinooks one on call one on standby; these are large enough to allow Advanced Life Support treatment to continue whilst in flight. The MERT will also call the hospital with details of the casualty's injuries so they can prepare.

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