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Tactical Medical Wing - Exercise Athena Dragon 23

The two weeklong exercise, Exercise Athena Dragon 23 at Nesscliff Training Camp, provided personnel from Tactical Medical Wing (TMW) and across the Royal Air Force Medical Services with assurance, training and familiarisation of the RAF Hospital Staging Unit (HSU) alongside the Role 1 (AIR) Lead

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Royal Air Force Regular and Reservists were able to test their skillset during a wide variety of medical scenarios including dog bites, burns, and cardiac arrest to name but a few. These scenarios utilised the Role 1 (AIR) Lead capability which is a scalable and rapidly deployable Primary Healthcare capability tailored to support all deployed personnel within the operating theatre.

Photo - Tactical Medical Wing on Exercise Athena Dragon 23. Image shows two medical personnel working at the back of a field ambulance

Alongside the Role 1, personnel were also exercised in the Hospital Staging Unit, which is an air-minded deployable secondary healthcare facility that can deliver treatment to patients prior to Aeromedical Evacuation back to the UK for continued treatment.

Photo - Tactical Medical Wing on Exercise Athena Dragon 23. Image shows a hospital theatre exercise scenario, with surgeons, nurses and technical personnel

Wing Commander Adam Smith, Officer Commanding TMW and Exercising Director, said:

“Athena Dragon has been a great exercise to showcase the full capability of the HSU, seeing it successfully work alongside the RAF’s Role 1 Lead for the first time. I am really pleased that the team has not only assured the HSU capability but demonstrated Agile Combat Employment principles by successfully upscaling to a larger configuration whilst continuing to deliver patient care.

"This assured capability will continue to offer Defence a means to clear patients from other deployed medical treatment facilities and support the Operational Patient Care Pathway."

Wing Commander Adam Smith
Officer Commanding Tactical Medical Wing

Photo - Tactical Medical Wing on Exercise Athena Dragon 23. Image shows medical personnel attending to a patient

Corporal Melissa Gaffey, Registered Nurse exercising as Aeromedical Evacuation Liaison Officer, said:

"Exercise Athena Dragon has been a great opportunity for me to gain insight into the challenging role of an Aeromedical Evacuation Liaison Officer, a job normally reserved for someone of much higher rank. I coordinated all patient transfers both into and out of the HSU, including the transportation of Aeromedical Evacuation Teams to and from the ‘airhead’. Through my effective communication within the Hospital Management Cell, I ensured positive patient outcomes throughout the exercise. Being new to this role, I had to continually adapt to new circumstances and overcome challenges, the continual support I received from my colleagues ensured I was able to thrive in this demanding but exciting role.

"On reflection, this experience has helped me develop hugely, even if the learning curve was quite steep, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to take on the role. It has given me the knowledge, confidence, and skills to apply for this position in future."

Corporal Melissa Gaffey Registered Nurse
Exercise Aeromedical Evacuation Liaison Officer

Photo - Tactical Medical Wing on Exercise Athena Dragon 23. Image shows a ward scenario, including patients and medical personnel


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