Page 23 - Chiron Spring 2018
P. 23

 The Shock of the Military
Lt Fryers talks about moving from civilian veterinary practice to the RAVC
It’s a Friday evening and consults are in full swing. Mr Bojangles, the Persian cat, is crouched behind the clinical waste bin in the corner, hissing at me as I try to scoop him out. I have five minutes to capture him, examine him, devise a treatment plan and explain everything to his owner. The clinical examination is somewhat hindered by his pink fleece, but apparently it’s ‘far too cold’ for me to remove it.
I adored my job as a civilian vet but, after experiencing the Mr Bojangles situation one too many times over the four years since qualifying from vet school, I started to question just how much I was contributing to society. I found myself having increasingly frequent conversations with friends and family about alternative careers. I really did enjoy cadets when I was at school...
Fast forward a few months and, after a briefing at Westbury, I found myself at the Army Officer Selection Board - three
and a half days of intensive physical, academic and psychometric testing. And I absolutely loved it. At the
end of September 2017 I made my way down to Sandhurst - ironing board, brown boot polish and snack bars a-plenty squeezed into the boot. My eight weeks at Sandhurst were a real eye opener
- my first taste of army life. I felt challenged, frustrated and at times even micromanaged but as the course continued I realised the importance of each little task we were given; it really does pay to have your bergan packed, your kit waterproofed
and your gas parts gleaming.
Phase 2 training at Lichfield gave me
a broader understanding of the context of the RAVC within the AMS as a whole. Spending time with the Medical Support Officers was interesting, and
RAVC/DAC Opportunities:
NASDU and the private security dog sector acknowledges the skills & experience of RAVC /DAC trained personnel and as such have opportunities for Trainers and handlers within the private sector
Vocational Qualifications Offered:
• Level 2 Award for a Security Dog Handler • Pathways: GP, Patrol Dog
• Level 3 Certificate for a Security Dog Handler • Pathways:GPAdvanced Tracking
• Level 3 Certificate for a Detection Dog Handler
• Pathways: Drugs, Live Body, Victim Recovery etc.
• Level 4 Certificate for a Detection Dog Handler
• Pathways: Explosive Detection, VS, Cargo etc.
All qualifications are endorsed by HABC an Awarding Organisation authorised by OFQUAL and recognised by the SIA
Telephone: 01483 224 320 E-mail: Fax: 01483 224 735
I’m sure that the medical planning exercises we covered will be invaluable to me in regiment.
Eighteen months since nearly losing a finger to Mr Bojangles I have started my clinical familiarisation at the DATR. Suddenly my clinical skills are part of a bigger machine. Rounds begin at 0800 each morning and I’m learning quickly that my skill set from civilian practice will need a little adjustment. The standards of husbandry here mean that the usual toxin ingestion, foreign bodies, GDVs and geriatric cases are nowhere to be seen. I have however, had my first exposure to ‘armyitis’. ‘Armyitis’ is the condition (or is it a syndrome?) whereby a young healthy animal from a small at risk population develops a weird and wonderful disease only ever glossed over in textbooks in 4th year at vet school.
Sick parade, the equivalent to my lunchtime consult slot, is a dream. The handlers know their dogs inside out, give accurate histories and hold the dogs perfectly for my examinations. Funny that Mr Bojangles the Persian cat was far more risky to
examine than a 30kg Mali.
So have I made the right decision? I am still
only part way along the pathway towards my first posting and it is of course taking some timetogetusedtothearmywayoflife.There will be things I miss from civilian practice; the
warm, fluffy human parts, complex medical work ups and of course puppies! However, the work carried out here by the nurses, vet techs and vet officers allows dog teams to increase operational awareness, extend operational reach and increase manoeuvrability and assurance in theatre. In short you save lives.
Talk about contributing to society.

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