Critical Care Practitioner Caroline Arter has been awarded the Armed Forces in Wales Award 2021. 

The award included nominees from the regular and reserve army in Wales – RAF, Navy and Army. 

For 6 and a half years, Army Reservist Caroline has served with 203 Welsh Field Hospital as an emergency medicine nurse. Since returning from her recent tour of duty she has been promoted to Sergeant.   

As well as her military commitments, Caroline has worked as a Helicopter Transfer Practitioner with EMRTS since Nov 2019. She’s recently become a Critical Care Practitioner and is due to start formal training in January 2022. 

Caroline was deployed on Operation Shader for six months this year in which her role was to provide clinical support for the deployed task force and entitled personnel. She was part of a team of 13 which included two other EMRTS clinicians, Dr Pete Williams and Dr Mark Knights. Their main effort was to provide damage control resuscitation and surgery to the deployed troops.

Caroline said: “I was nominated for the award primarily for the clinical teaching (trauma training, pre-hospital emergency care and emergency medicine) and mentoring of local medics I carried out whilst deployed. Pete Williams, Mark Knights and I identified an opportunity to develop the clinical skills and knowledge of the local healthcare personnel. These consisted of the local ambulance clinicians and local forces medics. These medics do not have the formal education and training that I have had the privilege to receive.   

“However, they regularly attend major trauma patients, such as IED explosions, major incidents, and gunshot wound victims. They do an amazing job helping their patients despite limited clinical training and very basic clinical kit, and no electro-med monitoring.”   

Caroline, Pete and Mark developed a formal 10-week trauma training programme to deliver to the local healthcare personnel, specific to their patient demographic and clinical capability.   

She added: “This was difficult to do due to the language barrier and delivering training via an interpreter. The translation of medical jargon is very tricky! Due to the operational security, we had limited access to the internet and learning materials, so we had to be quite creative in terms of delivering training. I drew upon previous clinical training I have been fortunate to receive whilst with EMRTS and working with the Wales Air Ambulance.” 

At the end of the 10-week programme, Caroline put the students through their ‘paces’, and delivered OSCE-style stations – practical skills stations which Caroline describes as not too dissimilar to an EMRTS simulation, to test the students’ learning. 

“We were very happy with the progress of the students and they all graduated and were presented with certificates at the end. They were also provided with a copy of the training programme, along with translated learning materials, so that they can reteach future colleagues.” 

Caroline was presented with her Armed Forces in Wales Award on November 25 at Cardiff City Stadium.  

Mark Winter, EMRTS Operations Director, said: “This award, and her promotions both in the military and within EMRTS, are nothing more than Caroline deserves. The idea and delivery of educational training in parts of the world where major injuries are a very real part of life, will no doubt positively impact many lives. Our service has gained so much from the experiences of the military and it’s pleasing to see that we can reciprocate that through the work of medics like Caroline, Pete and Mark.” 

A delighted Caroline said: “I was blown away to have been nominated for the award, so I was very surprised to have won it too!  I very much feel that the award is a result of a fantastic team effort of my deployed clinical team.  I feel privileged to be part of the Armed Forces and EMRTS, working alongside Wales Air Ambulance.  Having the opportunity to pass on the fantastic clinical training I have received at EMRTS to local medics in a developing country, has been a career highlight.  

“I am immensely grateful to EMRTS for fully supporting my deployment and for enabling my smooth transition back into full-time NHS employment following six months away.”