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RAF nurse given medal for lifesaving emergency work in Afghanistan

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A Royal Air Force nurse has been honoured for her pioneering work in both treatment and training during recent combat operations in Afghanistan.

From 2007 to 2013, Squadron Leader Charlie Thompson-Edgar led the Medical Emergency Response Team (MERT), which treated injured troops while they were being transported by helicopter to Camp Bastion in Helmand province.  

She received the Associate of the Royal Red Cross award – Royal Red Cross 2nd Class – at a ceremony at Lancaster House on 25 February.

Sqn Ldr Thompson-Edgar, 40 from Peterborough, is credited with “drastically” changing the MERT team “for the better” during her time in charge.

She was credited with showing “tremendous skill and courage” when she managed the first British triple amputee in 2007.

“For those guys on the ground that need our help, and for me to be recognised in this way is truly humbling”

Charlie Thompson-Edgar

She identified the need for stronger training to prepare those working in the MERT and subsequently created a bespoke course for all MERT personnel.

This included real-life training, better equipment awareness and the introduction of trauma risk management for members of the team.

Sqn Ldr Thompson-Edgar said trauma risk management was “vital in helping individuals get through the psychological aspects of what they have been through after horridly awful ordeals”.

She said she was “delighted and very surprised” at having received the award.

Royal Air Force

Source: RAF/MOD Crown

Squadron Leader Charlie Thompson-Edgar

“I look at the people that we evacuated off of the battlefield, and what we did was nothing in comparison to the bravery they showed,” she said. “For those guys on the ground that need our help, and for me to be recognised in this way is truly humbling.”

She noted that MERT was now a “globally acknowledged platform that is the pinnacle of pre hospital care”.

“Our teams gelled so well, and worked so well together, and have set the bar for everyone else,” she added.

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