News: Forward medical teams practice critical care techniques
Story by Senior Airman Bahja Jones
SOUTHWEST ASIA – Serving the largest community of deployed service members, the 379th Expeditionary Medical Group employs Mobile Field Surgical and Expeditionary Critical Care Teams to support operations throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
Together, these teams effectively provide medical support and surgical stabilization as either an augmented force to a pre-existing facility or as a “denovo,” supporting small units in field operations, said Maj. Michael Laidlaw, a 379th Expeditionary Medical Operations Squadron MFST team chief and orthopedic surgeon deployed from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., and a Katy, Texas, native.
Whether it’s U.S. military, coalition partners or host nation forces, they are charged with ensuring injured warfighters receive necessary emergency medical care no matter where they are.
“We maintain surgical and critical care operatives on the ground,” said Capt. Cassidy Boyer, the 379th EMDOS MFST certified nurse anesthetist deployed from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and a Helena, Mont., native. “Our goal is to save life, limb or eyesight and increase their chance of survival enough to get them to a tertiary care center.”
MFSTs are comprised of an emergency room doctor, general and orthopedic surgeons, an anesthetist and an operating room nurse, sometimes augmented with a surgical technician. ECCTs have an internal medicine doctor, critical care nurse and respiratory therapist.
Liaisons from higher headquarters determine where teams are needed, and they’re dispatched accordingly for as long as the mission requires. After providing critical medical treatment, they help coordinate an evacuation from their small intra-theater location to a larger facility for definitive medical care, Laidlaw said.
“Without us, they would have to go from point of injury to transport to get that care,” said Boyer. “We provide that link in-between.”
Throughout their deployment, the teams train regularly to prepare for challenges they could potentially face downrange.
Laidlaw said the teams spend time reviewing clinical practice guidelines making sure they get “hands on” with all of the equipment so everyone feels comfortable using it.
“We come up with hypothetical [scenarios], and walk through them in a thought provoking manner to make sure everybody’s processes are aligned with what would be a reasonable treatment and standard of care for the patient,” Laidlaw said.
Scenarios include a rundown of patient care from accepting the patients, to operating room procedures if necessary and back to the critical care ward.
“We’ve made an effort to make sure everyone is in the mindset of training from a trauma perspective so everyone can be on the same sheet of music when we’re called upon,” said Laidlaw.
When the teams are not forward deployed, they augment the 379th EMDG facilities here, in a secondary role, Boyer explained.
“While supplementing the hospital here, we are learning from those experiences as well,” she said.
Practicing life save saving skills ensures these teams are always ready to provide critical medical support to forward deployed service members.
“Being able to provide a mobile field surgical asset is a very unique capability the Air Force is able to offer the AOR,” said Laidlaw.
“To be able to save a life in the field is really important to us,” Boyer added. “If there is no medical facility around, we are able to stabilize them long enough to get them out and get them to safer care.”
Date Posted:09.15.2013 06:20
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