Shetland naval nurse Alice Jamieson has flown out to Afghanistan as part of the latest UK troop deployment to the region.
She will be stationed at the main British military base Camp Bastion where she will be assigned to the field hospital.
The 23-year-old, from Cullivoe in Yell, will be on hand to treat battle-injured soldiers as well as providing more regular care for the thousands of troops and support staff resident in Camp Bastion.
Along with the other service personnel that make up the Joint Force Medical Group, Alice and her team of Navy nurses will be working in what is widely considered as one of the busiest trauma centres in the world. It’s also one of the most advanced, and retains all the equipment of any civilian hospital such as an emergency department, operating theatres, wards, X-ray capability and pathology laboratories.
Alice has been training as a nurse with the Royal Navy since graduating from Anderson High School in 2007.
Before her deployment, Alice took part in training activity at an army medical centre, in a replica of the Camp Bastion hospital. Here, she met and worked alongside Americans and Danish who will form part of the medical entourage.
Speaking before she was flown out Alice said she and her colleagues were keen to start the deployment. “We’ve been training in a hospital that’s a mirror image of the one at Bastion”, she said. “It’s exactly like it will be in Afghanistan, just without the weather.
“I think it’s gotten to the stage where we just want to get out there and get on with it. I’m more excited than nervous, and everyone I know who’s been out there has really enjoyed the experience.”
Alice chose to become a nurse because of a desire to help people, but it was a childhood holiday visitng family in Portsmouth that drew her to the Navy.
It was at the Portsmouth waterfront attraction Action Stations, where she first had the chance to try on Navy uniform and play aboard vessels.
“Back then it was really more about wanting to help catch pirates,” she said. “But that’s when I first remember deciding I wanted to be in the Navy. I guess this is the next best thing.”
Julie Jamieson, Alice’s mother, said even at school Alice always maintained she would be in the Navy.
She’s immensely proud of her daughter’s achievement but inevitably worries about her being in Afghanistan.
“We’re proud of her and what she’s achieved. I am worried, but not as much as I thought I would be.
“She’ll be able to keep in touch, and I’ve made her promise she won’t go to the frontline! She [was] really looking forward to it and it’s what she’s been trained to do.”
Around 9,000 British personnel are based in Afghanistan as part of ongoing operations, with the majority based in the south of the country near Camp Bastion.
The camp is home to around 28,000 people of various nationalities and, as well as running its own field hospital, boasts its own airport, fire station, police force and a Pizza Hut.
The hospital in which Alice will be based is the main treatment centre for battlefield injuries, as well as a staging point for troops so badly wounded that they require to be airlifted back to the UK.