British Asian girls from Huddersfield and Batley shone a spotlight on Army medicine this past week when they visited a military field hospital in York.
The visit - arranged with the Huddersfield Pakistani Community Alliance and the Indian Muslim Welfare Society - was designed to give the girls an insight into a career in medicine with an Army flavour.
Hosted by 34 Field Hospital based in Strensall, the girls – aged between 12 and 16 - were shown how to build a temporary shelter called a basha.
They also prepared and ate a Halal operational ration pack for lunch before heading off to the battlefield ambulance where the roles of a Combat Medical Technician and field surgical team were explained alongside the equipment they use.
After some basic first aid training - including resuscitation techniques - they military girls took part in a stretcher race where they put their newly-acquired skills into practice.
16-year-old Aqsa Khan from Huddersfield said she had learnt more about the medical side of the army and different injuries faced on the battlefield.
“I have had basic training before but this is more advanced,” she said. “We have learnt more about the equipment the Army uses and then I went to look at all the equipment they would ship out with them overseas - and it is a lot. “
Before the visit, eight girls from the group of 24 had said they were seriously considering medicine as a career, a number which increased significantly by the end of the day.
Amongst those contemplating such a profession was 16-year-old Saira Munir from Huddersfield.
“I am not good at science and I want a career in business,” she said. “However, learning about everything that goes on here, how they treat the patients and how they rescue them is interesting.
“It is not something that you learn by watching the news. You have to see it and hear it from people that actually do it themselves. It was good coming here.”
14-year-old Aaisha Khan from Dewsbury agreed. She said: “More than anything, I really enjoyed the fact that we were able to see different part of the Army instead of the stereotypical things we see on the news.
“I really liked hearing about all the different career opportunities that the Army can offer; the different facilities and what the benefits are - instead of the things people usually mention such as fighting and going to war.
“Medicine is definitely something I am considering and the reason I came here today is because I felt it could help with my career.”
34 Field Hospital was the last field hospital to deploy to Camp Bastion in Afghanistan in 2013 and also returned home a year ago from Sierra Leone where they ran the Ebola Treatment Centre in Kerrytown.
The visit to Strensall was arranged by 4th Infantry Brigade based in Catterick , the Army’s regional focus for community engagement.
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Hunter, from the 4th Infantry Brigade Community Engagement team who organised the visit said: “We are reaching out to diverse communities throughout the region in order to raise awareness of what the Army does both in this country and abroad.
“The Army has many careers - of which medicine is one. We are not just about combat, we undertake humanitarian work and training throughout the world. 34 Field Hospital is a good example of that, having served on different styles of operation both in Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.”