October 23rd, 2016

Doctor on board to help Ebola fight

Updated: 3:15 pm, May 07, 2015

A ROYAL Navy doctor has deployed to Sierra Leone as part of the UK military operation to help combat the spread of Ebola.

Surgeon Lieutenant Dan Hawkins, from Radford Semele, is on aviation support ship RFA Argus which has just arrived in Sierra Leone.

Argus is one element of the Department for International Development (DfID) led response to the Ebola outbreak with teams of medics, engineers and specialists deploying to the country.

Dan is the ship’s doctor which means he looks after the health and wellbeing of roughly 150 personnel while the ship is conducting exercises or on operations.

But he is also Aviation Medicine qualified meaning he will look after an additional 80 men and women from 820 Naval Air Squadron who are embarked in Argus to fly Royal Navy Merlin helicopters from ship to shore with personnel, stores and equipment.

The 34-year-old said: “It has been a steep learning curve for all the ship’s company to get up to speed with something they know little about, but all the Ebola training has really paid off and I’m confident of the positive contribution we will make.

“I’m not really worried about Ebola as the risk to the ship is minimal. Malaria is a bigger problem – you can stay away from Ebola but you cannot avoid the mosquitoes and that is why everyone onboard is taking anti malarials.”

Dan attended the University of Warwick and studied Biomedical and Clinical Chemistry before reading for a PhD in Bio Nanotechnology.

At the age of 26 he joined the Royal Navy as a sponsored cadet and went on to become a doctor.

Dan – who lives with his partner, Nicole, who is a GP in Leamington – joined RFA Argus 16 months ago and the relief effort to Sierra Leone is his first international deployment with the Royal Navy.

“The Royal Navy has invested a lot of time in my training and now I’m going to be putting all of that into action.” he said.

“My parents were concerned when I told them I was going to Sierra Leone because of what they had seen, read, and heard, in the media. But when I told them about all the screening and safety steps that are in place they felt better and are now pleased with the role I will be playing.”

The UK military deployment to Sierra Leone is part of a wider humanitarian aid program led by DFID and involving Save the Children and the Sierra Leonean Government and military.

Surgeon Lieutenant Dan Hawkins is playing a vital role in helping combat the spread of Ebola in Sierra Leone. (s)

Argus heads out of Falmouth – Helicopters will be flying ship to shore with personnel, stores and equipment. (s)

Argus heads out of Falmouth – Helicopters will be flying ship to shore with personnel, stores and equipment. (s)