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Armed Forces

Former RAF man now on the medical frontline

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An ex-Royal Air Force paramedic from Pembrokeshire who served “outside the wire” in Afghanistan is now settling into the frontline of medical response back home in Wales.

The Welsh Ambulance Service is marking Armed Forces Week (21-27 June) by celebrating service personnel, past and present, who now work for the organisation.

Ryan Briggs, 41, from Haverfordwest joined the Welsh Ambulance Service in March 2020 after a 22 year career as a medic in the RAF.

Ryan said: “I’d always wanted to be a paramedic and went into the RAF at 17 as a bit of a stop-gap.

“I did my basic training and then did my medical training to initially become an RAF Medic.

“In 2008 I started my Emergency Medical Technician training with what was then Great Western Ambulance Service and gained my foundation degree in paramedicine in 2011 from Birmingham and became a paramedic from there.”

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It was a career that took him all over the world and to numerous conflict zones.

Ryan in his previous role as an RAF Medic (Image: Welsh Ambulance Service Trust)

He continued: “I served two tours of Iraq in 2003 and 2007 on the helicopters and then on the frontline in Afghanistan in 2012 – the Big Three as I call them.

“The most memorable though was being deployed to the British Virgin Islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma which ripped up much of the North Caribbean with 230mph winds.

“Being there as a solo medic in a humanitarian crisis was way out of my comfort zone.

“The conditions were pretty awful and I was doing all sorts that you don’t expect to be doing as a paramedic – GP visits, wound management and even primary care visits.”

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The married father of two boys decided to come back home and put down roots with his family when he reached pensionable age in the RAF and as is well documented with many ex-forces personnel, struggled at first to adjust to civilian life.

Ryan said: “Transition was hard and to be honest it took me about six months to feel comfortable in my new role.

“I was initially on relief shifts and I needed a bit of stability so I spoke to my Locality Manager, Matthew Jones who was really supportive and put me on a line with an experienced paramedic who I worked with for almost a year.

“I am now fairly settled and enjoying my role.

“Because everything was new to me joining as the first lockdown hit, I didn’t have much of a problem adjusting to the new ways of working.

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“Dealing with change is something I’d done for 22 years.”

(Lead image: Welsh Ambulance Service Trust)


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