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British Army medics try out cutting edge app to take x-rays in desert

The doctors are in Oman as part of Exercise Saif Sareea 3.

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Soldiers at 22 field hospital attend to a simulated casualty while taking part in a medical training scenario (Ben Birchall/PA)

Soldiers at 22 field hospital attend to a simulated casualty while taking part in a medical training scenario (Ben Birchall/PA)

Soldiers at 22 field hospital attend to a simulated casualty while taking part in a medical training scenario (Ben Birchall/PA)

Medics taking part in the UK’s biggest military exercise for almost two decades are trialing a cutting-edge app that has been hailed as “worth its weight in gold”.

Exercise Saif Sareea 3 officially began on October 5 and will see more than 5,500 UK personnel and 65,000 of their Omani counterparts take part over the coming month.

Lieutenant Colonel David Wilson, of the Royal Medical Corps, based in Camp Shafa for the exercise, said they have been testing and using a new app called Proximie.

He revealed that telemedicine technology allows medics to overlay x-rays onto a patient, and that a camera is linked up back to the UK to a consultant in the relevant medical field.

This allows the consultant, who is often miles away, to see what is being done and offer precision instruction and advice during a procedure.

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Soldiers at 22 field hospital attend to a simulated casualty in the Field Surgical Team’s operating theatre (Ben Birchall/PA)

Soldiers at 22 field hospital attend to a simulated casualty in the Field Surgical Team’s operating theatre (Ben Birchall/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Soldiers at 22 field hospital attend to a simulated casualty in the Field Surgical Team’s operating theatre (Ben Birchall/PA)

“It is huge,” 41-year-old Lt Col Wilson from Aldershot, Hampshire, said when asked about the impact of the app.

“This is the next century coming into where we are now, this is what we have been hoping for,” he said.

“Even though computers are evolving twice the speed every year, they haven’t necessarily delivered us the advantages we had hoped.

“This thing could genuinely be a leap forward in an operation… it has proved itself out here, it is worth its weight in gold.”

Lt Col Wilson revealed that for exercise Saif Sareea 3 a tented medical facility, covering an area of 75 metres by 75 metres, has been deployed for the first time in almost 20 years.

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Soldiers at 22 field hospital attend to a simulated casualty (Ben Birchall/PA)

Soldiers at 22 field hospital attend to a simulated casualty (Ben Birchall/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Soldiers at 22 field hospital attend to a simulated casualty (Ben Birchall/PA)

Inside there is a two-bed intensive care unit, 12 low dependency ward beds, a two-bed emergency department and one surgical table available for use.

He said during the exercise they have been training with mock patients who have injuries that mimic battle-related trauma.

And with more than 40 real casualties so far, Lt Col Wilson said most of the health issues among troops are “non battle related diseases” and “lower level stuff”.

“The boys and girls are absolutely loving delivering care, and touch wood, fingers crossed, no one gets hurt and no one needs our support,” he said.

“If we do nothing for three months that is a really good thing for the soldiers.”

The field hospital is also where the Medical Emergency Response Team (Mert) bring those who have been out in the field on exercise and need further medical treatment.

With Puma and Chinook helicopters on hand, casualties can be taken to hospital by aircraft and also away from the area to return to the UK.

Squadron Leader Rob James, 35, from Plymouth, is currently on his first Mert deployment as a doctor and works with the Devon Air Ambulance back in the UK.

“It is great to come out and actually do what I have been working towards for so long,” he said.

Asked how important the exercise is to develop and maintain his Mert skills, Sqn Ldr James, said: “Operating in this environment with military kit and military aircraft is vital in preparing for anything else we might have to do in a non-exercise role.

“And I think from a wider defence point of view getting to operate in this environment with our Omani partners is equally valuable.”

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