Richard Villar

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Emergency Response Surgeon

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Richard served as SAS Medical Officer, operating in the field on soldiers and civilians alike. He is now a leading orthopaedic surgeon and a member of the Disaster Emergency Response Team – responding to events like the earthquake in Haiti and civil war in Libya. Richard describes arriving in a stricken area with the infrastructure destroyed: “Without water, power or the rule of law, you take nothing for granted - the challenges go beyond what most of us can imagine.”


Richard Villar is one of the country’s leading orthopaedic surgeons, specialising in hips. Previously, and less conventionally, after qualifying as a surgeon, he trained for the SAS and became the special forces’ Regimental Medical Officer operating in the field on soldiers and civilians alike. He is also a Surgical Team Leader for the UK’s Disaster Emergency Response Team and has worked in the aftermaths of the Kashmir, Java and Haiti earthquakes.

Surgery is usually considered a high-pressure, stressful occupation. Carrying out surgery in the immediate aftermath of fire-fights, bomb attacks and natural disasters, where casualties are many and serious and where facilities are make-shift, heightens that stress and the need for precision, leadership and improvisation. Richard has seen service in more than 30 countries including Bosnia and Afghanistan, in Palestinian refugee camps, Central American disaster zones, and in an evacuation of casualties from the North Face of Mount Everest in the wake of an avalanche.

Richard tells his story of operating on the front-line, what he’s learned, and how the teamwork, decision-making and leadership required to operate in such high-pressure environments can be applied in any organisation. He has recounted his many experiences in two books, Knife Edge and Winged Scalpel and written for The Spectator, Telegraph and Evening Standard.

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