A British Army Reservist from Basingstoke has been playing her part in the national effort to beat the Coronavirus pandemic.

Sergeant Rosie Dicks is an Intensive Therapy Unit (ITU) nurse at the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital and also a full-time Reservist with The Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps.

The 31-year-old has worked in the department for the last eight years and is responsible for providing support to patients suffering from multiple organ failure.

Talking about her role Rosie said: “I care for patients on both non-invasive and invasive ventilation, I monitor and provide them with the care they need. I also provide end of life care for the patients that are not able to survive and facilitate discharge to the ward for those who improve.”

Rosie joined the Reserves in 2010, she currently serves with 256 (City of London) Field Hospital based in Kingston but works at Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital because it is closest. When asked why she chose a career in care Rosie said; “I’d always wanted to be a Nurse, as a child I used to care for my teddies and bandaged them up – there was always something in me.”

Other than her Great Grandfather who served in World War One and her Grandfather who served in World War Two, Rosie has no other direct links to the military. However coincidently she did find out recently that her Great Grandfather did in fact deploy from the same location in which her unit is based, which she said, “is quite cool.”

Asked why, therefore, she chose to join the military, Rosie said: “My focus was to become a Nurse but joining the military has offered me the best of both worlds and has meant I have been able to experience things I wouldn’t have otherwise been able to.”

When it came to career decision time at secondary school, Rosie recalls a conversation she had with a Military Medic at a career stand, she said; “He was really friendly and helpful. He was the first person to talk to me about my choices rather than talking to my parents. Whilst my parents were completely supportive of my choices it was nice to be treated like an adult and know the decision was completely mine.” Rosie went on to decide that studying to be a nurse at university would be her first priority and she spent three years studying at Bournemouth. It was following the completion of her studies that Rosie then decided to look into military life.

“Being a nurse is my passion, it’s important to me to be able to provide help for others when they need it the most” explained Rosie. “The nature of my role means I am able to nurse in varying environments, develop my skills and practices and embrace additional challenges as I continue in my nursing journey.”

Whilst being in the military, Rosie has travelled to France and Switzerland on skiing exercises, conducted overseas exercises in Germany and the USA and deployed to Sierra Leone on 2014-2015 on Operation GRITROCK, providing support in the fight against the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa.

When asked about her deployment and whether there were any skills, similarities or differences she could take away or apply to the way in which she has handled working in the pandemic, Rosie said: “Due to the military training I had received I was better prepared mentally for when we needed to admit patients in quick succession and able to accept that you may not be able to save everyone.”

In Sierra Leone Rosie explained that she had to wear full personal protection equipment (PPE) all the time for extended periods of time and in uncomfortable positions: “We were working in hot weather and tough conditions so when Government guidelines were issued whereby full PPE was implemented here in the UK last year and continued through the heat wave, I wasn’t really affected, it was almost second nature.”

Rosie went on to talk about how her experiences of being deployed and being away from her friends and family has also helped her to cope with not being able to see her loved ones.

She added: “In some senses I have just treated like this deployment, the only difference is I can chat to them more freely on Facetime or Zoom.”

Feeling proud of her service and the significant difference she is making to people’s lives, Rosie said: “The most important aspect of the work I have been doing has been that I am able to offer some reassurance to families.”

Rosie lost her own Grandfather at the beginning of the pandemic to COVID-19 and witnessed the effect it had on her own family, not being able to see him whilst in hospital nor being able to be with him at the end.

However, she used her experience to ensure this was addressed at the hospital for her patients and their families going forward, including setting up video calls between patients and relatives, and staff and relatives for updates and facilitating relatives to see their loved ones at the end of life.

Rosie said: “I am very proud of the work I do and my achievements, it keeps me motivated, it can be exciting and there is always a promise of a challenge.”

Rosie is keen to continue to develop her career in whatever manner that may present itself either through her employment in the NHS or as a serving soldier.

However, if another deployment was on the cards she said: “I certainly wouldn’t turn the opportunity down.”