HRFCA took a group of employers to Cyprus on a memorable trip to meet up with the Reservists of 225 (Scottish) Medical Regiment.
The four-day visit was an excellent opportunity to show the diverse group of employers from organisations including Tesco, ISS, Nuffield Health, Skanska, Dundee University and NHS Borders the value of employing Reservists.
Dundee-based 225 has detachments in the city as well as Stirling and Glenrothes.
The event kicked off with a briefing in the Officers Mess at Episkopi from Lt Col Helen Smyth, the regiment’s commanding officer.
Lt Col Smyth outlined the structure of the regiment and highlighted the recruitment issues it faces.
She added: “My job is to make sure we get numbers in the Reserves, but it’s a real challenge.
“We are aiming to establish detachments in Inverness and Aberdeen and, now that the Borders Railway has opened, will also look to expand recruitment south of Edinburgh.”
She also spoke of the commitment of Reserves and the challenges of achieving the right balance between family, work and Reserves.
On the value of engaging with employers, she said: “Letting employers know what Reservists can do and what an asset they are is key.”
HRFCA’s Regional Employer Engagement Director Ron Macgregor also gave a short presentation demonstrating the value of Reservists in both practical and financial terms to employers – talking about transferable skills and the £8,500-worth of training a Reservist receives annually.
The employers then headed to the training area – a forward operating base (FOB) at Akrotiri – to visit the troops, some of whom had deployed to Cyprus on October 31.
At the FOB the exercise was outlined by Lt Col Cath Livingstone who explained that it was a simulation of an outbreak of so-called ‘Hubert’s Disease’ – an ebola-type pathogen which 225 was tasked with controlling.
Two of the employers were then give the chance to act as simulated casualties. Israil Bryan of construction firm Skanska received a ‘gunshot wound’ to the shoulder and Sophie Oates of Nuffield Health was ‘shot’ in the leg.
After the pair were assessed, screened for Hubert’s and patched up they were released to rejoin the group. A walk-through of the treatment facility followed with employers impressed by the diverse clinical skills on show.
Each employer was handed
a 24-hour ration pack
Lunch was a DIY affair with each employer handed a 24-hour ration pack to prepare. A tour of the rest of the camp was next in a packed programme with a stop-off at the fire station and the field kitchen.
Liz MacLeod and Sophie Oates of Nuffield Health then volunteered to take part in decontamination procedures and were expertly guided through the ‘donning’ and ‘doffing’ techniques used when suiting up and taking off protective clothing.
Adam Wood, who is the Senior Infection control Nurse at NHS Borders, also got hands-on during the exercise. Not only did he deliver a lecture and training to the Reservists, but he even had the tables turned on him, becoming an overnight patient at the facility as part of the simulation.
The following morning brought a trip to the DCCT (Dismounted Close Combat Trainer) at Episkopi with employers taken through weapon handling before being allowed on the range to fire SA80s at static targets before moving through various combat scenarios. Employers were also given the opportunity to handle the Glock 17 sidearm as well as heavy machine guns, a grenade launcher, and an anti-tank missile system.
That evening employers were invited to meet the Reservists at the unit’s regimental barbecue at Dhekelia – which along with Akrotiri make up the Sovereign Base Areas on the island.
The employers’ final day in Cyprus saw them taking in the cultural sights in the ancient Greek city of Kourion before heading for the airport.
Brigadier David Eastman, the Commander of 102 Logistic Brigade, attended the exercise to see 225 (one of his 15 regiments) in action.
He said: “This has been a brilliant exercise and I’ve been massively impressed with the professionalism of 225 throughout. I would also like to thank the employers for coming out to Cyprus and hopefully they will have seen that these Reservists truly are ‘twice the citizen’.”
The Brigadier also presented two Volunteer Reserve Service Medals to the regiment and carried out one promotion.
The four-day trip gave employers a fantastic glimpse of the qualities and skills Reservists could bring to their businesses and was given a big thumbs-up by all who took part.
Many thanks are due to all at 225 for the warm welcome and first-class hospitality offered to all employers throughout the four days.
Go to our galleries section to see all the images from the trip. Click here.