A ROYAL Navy doctor from Evesham has been deployed to one of the world’s poorest countries to help combat the spread of Ebola virus.
Surgeon Lieutenant Dan Hawkins is on aviation support ship RFA Argus which has sailed to Sierra Leone as part of a UK military operation.
The relief effort to the African country is his first international deployment with the Royal Navy.
RFA Argus is one element of the Department for International Development (DfID) led response to the Ebola outbreak with teams of medics, engineers and specialists deploying to the country.
Surgeon Lt Hawkins is the ship’s doctor and is responsible for looking after the health and wellbeing of roughly 150 personnel while the ship is conducting exercises or on operations.
But he is also Aviation Medicine qualified meaning he will look after an additional 80 men and women from 820 Naval Air Squadron who are embarked on Argus to fly Royal Navy Merlin helicopters from ship to shore with personnel, stores and equipment.
“It has been a steep learning curve for all the ship’s company to get up to speed with something they know little about, but all the Ebola training has really paid off and I’m confident of the positive contribution we will make,” he said.
“I’m not really worried about Ebola as the risk to the ship is minimal. Malaria is a bigger problem – you can stay away from Ebola but you cannot avoid the mosquitoes and that is why everyone on board is taking anti malarials.”
Surgeon Lt Hawkins attended Evesham High School before studying Biomedical and Clinical Chemistry and read for a PhD in Bio Nanotechnology.
At 26 he joined the Royal Navy as a sponsored cadet and went on to become a doctor before joining RFA Argus 16 months ago.
“The Royal Navy has invested a lot of time in my training and now I’m going to be putting all of that into action.” he added.
“My parents were concerned when I told them I was going to Sierra Leone because of what they had seen, read and heard in the media.
“But when I told them about all the screening and safety steps that are in place they felt better and are now pleased with the role I will be playing.”