Life @ EA

Army Reservist leaves the classroom to join the fight against COVID-19

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WJT 250pxLt Col Wilson Turkington is a teacher and Head of Department at Edinburgh Academy, but he is also an Army Reservist, working for 498 Labour Support Unit, a Royal Logistics Corps nationally recruited unit based in Grantham, Lincolnshire as part of 104 Logistic Brigade.

Normally his Army service takes place in his spare time, but he is one of a number of people whose skills were seen as vital and he was mobilised to join the Defence support to the fight against COVID-19. He is currently working as part of a two-person Military Liaison Officer (MLO) team supporting the Chief Executive and Senior Management Team of NHS Forth Valley. Each Health Board across Scotland has two MLOs, many of them Army Reservists, who bring specific knowledge and experience to advise the local NHS implementing their response. There are also a number working directly with the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland, all providing support and a direct link to the military, sometimes these lead to a Military Assistance to the Civil Authority (MACA) Task where soldiers are asked to directly help by reinforcing capability or magnifying an effect.

Wilson said on the contrast between his civilian and current work “I have experienced working across teams to achieve a result, but the NHS is a very different environment, and the challenges of COVID-19 lead to much shorter reaction times.”

With regards to being mobilised he went on to say “The popular view of the military over the past few years has been one of deployments to distant places, whether Afghanistan or Iraq, but recent military support to the authorities in the UK, from supporting the response to Storm Dennis to the current COVID-19 deployment mean that we can make a difference much closer to home.”

Lt Col Turkington feels that he has been able to deliver useful support to NHS Forth Valley and has helped bring his experiences and knowledge to reinforce the key work that the NHS and other emergency services are providing. When thinking about what he will take away from this role he said “My key learning points from this deployment are that the range of skills and the mindset that you develop in the military over time have the flexibility to make a positive impact across very different environments.”

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