Wednesday, September 9, 2009
AN army medic from Whitby, who joined up because she was too young to train as a nurse, is now saving the lives of soldiers in Afghanistan.
Corporal Beth Spark (22), who is working with 2 Rifles Battle Group in Sangin, Helmand Province, has been described as "unflappable" by those whom she works alongside.
The combat medical technician, who is responsible for providing frontline medical care to soldiers on patrols, said: "I originally thought about going into nursing, but I was too young at 16. So I thought I'd come to the Army and work as a medic instead."
Cpl Spark was posted to Afghanistan in March this year and has faced Improvised Explosives Devices (IED) and small arms attacks while dealing with injured soldiers.
She prefers not to talk about specific incidents, but Lieutenant Mark Cripps, a platoon commander from 2 Rifles, said she had saved lives on more than one occasion. "Beth was involved in treating a severely injured soldier after an IED explosion.
"There's no doubt in my mind that she saved his life. She's pretty much unflappable. She's treated a number of my guys after being injured on patrol or in everyday events. She carries loads of kit, but she never, ever moans.
"She never flakes out and is totally reliable. Everyone has a lot of respect for her and her infantry skills are excellent, much better than anyone else who comes out with us."
Cpl Spark, who has already worked in Iraq and Kosovo, said: "I just wanted a fun job, doing something a little bit different.
"My best time in the Army so far has been going to the jungle in Belize. We learnt all the jungle survival techniques and patrol skills."
Combat medical technicians have to deal with everything from combat injuries to heat exhaustion, treating soldiers, the Afghan National Army and Police.
Cpl Spark will also help to treat local people after they have been injured by Taliban IEDs. She said: "I enjoy going out on the ground and being a medic. My med kit bag is huge. Although it's not heavy on its own, with body armour, weapon, ammunition and water it can get very heavy."
She has already had an eventful tour, working an area which has seen a number of casualties.