I’m a medic get me out of here!

September 3, 2015
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by Capt Kevin Thornley, 207 (Manchester) Fd Hosp

Under the direction of the Army’s Op FORTIFY, the drive to recruit to the Army Reserve, the Recruit Retention and Mentoring Team (RRMT) from 207 (Manchester) Fd Hosp came up with a plan to attract new recruits and to help nurture and retain recruits currently in the pipeline. The event was planned along the lines of TV show ‘I’m a Celebrity’, so they named it, ‘I’m a Medic get me out of here!’ So as not to leave the recruits totally to their own devices the teams were made up of both recruits and trained soldiers.

Picture one Archery Competition

Archery competition

The secret location for the event was against the backdrop of the Lancastrian countryside in the Ribble Valley. The competitors were picked up from the Army Reserve Centre and transported to the camp where they had all their comfort items such as mobile phones, backpacks and sweeties removed. They were then informed that the next 24 hours would be spent earning back the essentials to survive by participating in various challenges. Unlike the TV programme, the competitors were split into three teams and everything was about gaining items for members of their team and not just the individual.

The weather was reasonably kind with just a light drizzle that didn’t dampen spirits too much. The first rotation of challenges included archery, Jacobs ladder and a blindfolded obstacle course. Before they could earn their tea there was the inevitable raft building and race in the River Ribble, which everyone got fully involved with as they were already pretty damp. Once this event was finished the teams were given the makings of an evening meal and the individual cookers to boil up some water to get something warm inside them.

The evening saw the bush tucker trial with teams having to sample some strange concoctions thought up by the directing staff. For the points they had been awarded during the day they were given their overnight shelters and sleeping areas. Once the sleeping areas were set up it was the competitors turn to have a go at the directing staff with a series of mini-sketches, although it seemed the Recruiting Team bore the brunt of the abuse.

After a pretty damp night the morning dawned grey and drizzly, and all the competitors dragged themselves out of their sodden shelters to find that a group of enterprising squirrels had raided the food store in the night and taken the centres out of the bread that was supposed to be breakfast – so it was sandwiches without bread! Once this crisis had been overcome the teams were despatched on an orienteering course to earn points to go to the overall competition. This was a gruelling three hours and after an uncomfortably wet night and a miniscule breakfast, spirits were starting to flag – but the end was in sight.

Picture three Blindfold assault course

Blindfolded obstacle course

Just before lunchtime on Sunday the competition was brought to a close and the winning team was announced and given the prize of a hot shower and a cup of scalding hot tea. A lot of damp but happy campers were then loaded onto the transport and taken for a slap up lunch in a local hostelry. Student nurse and potential recruit Shaunna Browne said: “The last 24 hours have been hard work but such good fun and I have got to know some of the other recruits joining 207 Fd Hosp. Everyone pulled together and got on with it, I’m sure this experience will help once I am going through basic training.”

This was the first time 207 had tried this type of event and it has proved to be an enormous success. It certainly livened up our Facebook page. It is the start of a series of events to both attract new recruits and to nurture those in the pipeline, which for medics can be more protracted than other units. Anyone who would like more information about 207 Field Hospital should contact the recruiting team on 0161 232 4985 or email [email protected]