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Reflection – Rose Pescod

On the 9th September I took an early morning flight from Manchester and joined Team Rubicon USA on Operation Hermes. For the next fortnight it would be my job, alongside my American colleagues, to deliver healthcare in a clinic for Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Greece.

I discovered Team Rubicon whilst I was studying for my MSc in International Disaster Management at the University of Manchester this year. My new American classmate, Kate, with her no nonsense attitude and bright blue hair, took me up to Keswick to help with the flood response. Team Rubicon with its dual purpose, to reintegrate veterans and provide disaster response, and welcoming, enthusiastic ‘Greyshirts’ had me hooked. Without hesitation, I rejoined the team in Tadcaster over the New Year and completed my initial training and initiation this summer in Wiltshire.

So fresh from completing my MSc, I landed in Greece for my first international deployment. Dave, the logistician, and Jerome, the ‘tech guy’, kindly collected me from the airport and after swinging by the apartment to drop my bags we went straight to the clinic. There were patients to see! Prior to leaving, I had chatted with Charlie, one of TRUK’s Operations Managers, who had already been out to the clinic, so I had a rough idea of the situation. However, I definitely wasn’t prepared for the stark contrast of the refugee camp against the backdrop of a busy tourist destination. It was very unsettling.

Back in England I work as a Paramedic for the London Ambulance Service and so I am well used to communicating with others without speaking. The diversity of our sprawling capital centre means that often a talent at charades is very useful! However, the skill and dedication of the translators in the clinic meant that I didn’t need to rely on my acting or drawing skills that often. Although it came pretty close when Health Point Foundation and Dentaid lost their translator to illness and they took me up on my offer to draw for them. Luckily, we managed to spare one of our translators from the clinic.

Shelving with medication
The pharmacy for Operation Hermes

The clinic is a really impressive set up. Donations have enabled teams of appropriately qualified health care professionals to deploy with the resources they need to assess, diagnose and treat an extremely vulnerable community. The pharmacy is well supplied with both emergency medications and those for the management of chronic conditions. The examination room contains two beds for assessment and treatment and also a 12 lead ECG and ultrasound. This was used regularly during my deployment: a lady had her 20-week scan and two patients presented with cardiac chest pain. We also administered intravenous fluids to a patient and lanced an abscess on a child’s leg.

Rose with a patient
Rose with a patient

Although the clinic was open from 1000-1800 every day, with out of hours covered by an ‘on call’ rota, it was generally busy from 1330 to 1800. Firmly on Mediterranean time, the refugees often went to bed between midnight and 0300 meaning late starts. Often families would present to the clinic together and talk all at once, exchanging both pleasantries and complaints. As my team were running the clinic with skeleton staff, I was frequently in the clinic by myself. I often found myself reflecting on my first TR deployment during which my TR mentor would regularly ask me, “Are you in control?” TR has certainly taught me new skills and has provided me with the opportunity to work in challenging environments. Disasters are our business.

Rose with a patient
Rose chats with a patient

I really enjoyed chatting to the Syrian and Iraqi refugees during my stay. Many longed to go home but knew that was unlikely and, for some, that it wouldn’t be in their lifetime. All I could leave behind was faith and hope that their current situation is transitional and that they will have a new place to call home soon. I am very fortunate that I have my health, family and friends, education and career. If Team Rubicon can go some way to alleviating the suffering of these refugees with the knowledge and skills, empathy and compassion of their members, then I look forward to deploying again soon.

The Operation Hermes team
The Operation Hermes team

One Response to “Reflection – Rose Pescod”

  1. Debora Velho Calveche

    Hello! I’m Debee, working for A&E Networks in the UK. Me and other 13 colleagues are joining forces as TEAM HERMES at #RaceforTeamRubicon event at our London office. in 5 days, we need to cycle at least 329 miles – a virtual race from Team Rubicon HQ in Chilmark, Wiltshire, to Keswick in Cumbria. TRUK deployed to Keswick in December 2015 as TRUK first official domestic operation to help clean up after the flooding.

    Total miles cycled & total pounds fundraised per team will be added together to get each teams total score. E.g. 367 miles + £587 = 954.

    Team HERMES here is working hard to help raise awareness and donations for Team Rubicon – and especially for Operation Hermes. I’d like to get our guys in touch with your guys in Greece for a team-to-team catch up – a 10 mins conversation will do, all we need is to see you and you, to see us to keep these guys cycling regardless the hardship they’re facing – which is not even close to what you face on the ground in Greece.

    Our donation page is starting to get shape https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/TeamHermes1
    soon with the first photos and comments. we would love to get in touch and send/receive photos, news and a little gift from here that we would like to send to Greece for Operation Hermes team.

    How can we get this contact? we’ve got only this week until Friday 3pm so if you could let us know asap that would be fantastic!

    Thanks so much for your brilliant job there and for your support to this little team here!

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Best Regards,

    Debee

    Reply

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