Nurse reservist brings NHS expertise to major combat training exercise

Posted on Monday 2nd July 2018
Army reservist Louise Dewsbury in her army uniform and on the ward as a nurse

Louise Dewsbury in Army uniform and on working on the ward

A nurse from Evelina London Children’s Hospital put her medical expertise to the test when she took part in a major combat training exercise in Poland.

Louise Dewsbury, 53, from Forest Hill in south east London, is lead nurse in the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) at Evelina London.

Louise is a British Army reservist in the 306 Hospital Support Medical Regiment. She is one of 11 reservists working at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust who give up their own time to serve in the Armed Forces.

After qualifying as a British Army reservist in June 2017, Louise recently took part in a multinational military training exercise led by the US Army and involving 19 countries and 18,000 troops.

She explained: “The mass casualty simulations were very intense and realistic, and wearing the body armour in the blazing sun was hard work.

“One of the scenarios involved our military dog getting injured. Known as Max and made of cardboard and plastic cups, he had an important part to play in the simulation because US Army dogs are treated with equal importance to their handler.

“The exercise helped us overcome language barriers and highlighted how important it is to know the strengths of your team, to show compassion and appreciate those around you – the principles of these skills are absolutely vital in my role at Evelina London.”

Louise decided to become a reservist because she was looking for a new challenge having been a nurse for over 30 years.

“It’s something I’d always wanted to do and at my age it was now or never.

“The leadership training I’ve had at Evelina London has been incredibly valuable in preparing me for what is expected in the reserves.

“It’s given me new energy and I can safely say that it has well and truly pushed me out of my comfort zone.”

There are around 5,000 medical reservists working in the NHS across the UK.

Dame Eileen Sills, Chief Nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “We are incredibly proud of our staff who go the extra mile by giving up their time to support our Armed Forces as reservists. The skills and experience they gain benefit our patients enormously.

“As a Trust we have a proud history of supporting the Armed Forces. We help ex-servicemen and women find employment in the NHS through the Step into Health programme, and we previously received a Silver Award in the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme.”

Armed Forces Day was celebrated on Saturday 30 June.