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Royal Navy and Royal Marine medics help the sick and injured in the British Virgin Islands

14 September 2017
More than 50 kidney patients in the British Virgin Islands received urgent treatment thanks to UK military personnel.

Peebles hospital - the main medical complex for the 28,000 people spread across the islands - was left without a constant, clean water supply after Hurricane Irma struck.

It left 52 patients who rely on dialysis in a potentially dangerous situation - the hospital unit treated them desperately needed pure water and RFA Mounts Bay obliged with enough to re-start treatment, using her Wildcat helicopter to fly the liquid in.

The support ship, which has spent much of its time on Operation Ruman - codename for Britain' relief effort in the Caribbean - is equipped with a sick bay, run by a small medical team.

They've been helped on the ground in Tortola and other islands in the overseas territory by the arrival of the medics from Alpha Company, 40 Commando.

Led by Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Andy Matheson, the team from Barnstaple in Devon, the team - one paramedic and four medical assistants - set up a makeshift 'surgery' in the police headquarters and have worked alongside local doctors and nurses from Peebles hospital to provide care where it is needed.

This is my first time supporting a disaster relief operation and being here in a medical role is incredibly rewarding

Medical Assistant Marine Kieran Stubbings

"We have seen numerous patients with wounds varying from cuts and bruising to serious limb lacerations," said medical assistant Marine Kieran Stubbings.

"This is my first time supporting a disaster relief operation and being here in a medical role is incredibly rewarding."

He and his comrades created a temporary treatment room in Road Town's police station, with equipment ranging from emergency lifesaving defibrillator to wound dressings and pain relief.

"This is my first time supporting a disaster relief operation and being here in a medical role is incredibly rewarding."

Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Matheson has paid countless visits to Peebles already, examining the facilities, liaising with Tortola's health care professionals and assessing what medical supplies. He explained of the impressive resilience and hard work of the hospital staff.

"I examined the Intensive Therapy Unit only days after Irma hit - it was functioning, clean and comparable to a UK hospital unit. They're doing a fantastic job and we'll continue to support in whatever capacity we can."

In addition to the relatively-small medical teams aboard Mounts Bay and with 40 Commando, 18 members of the RN's Role 2 Afloat Medical Team - who typically stabilise/operate on battlefield casualties with the most serious injuries before they can be transferred to field hospitals - flew out to the Caribbean on Monday.

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