News: FST surgeons sharpen skills
Story by Staff Sgt. David Chapman
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. — Medical professionals call it the “golden hour,” that valuable time after a serious injury when how fast the treatment is received could be the decider between life and death. Because of a small team of surgeons, this vital and short time frame can be maximized to shift the balance to save a life.
During a weeklong training exercise on Joint Base Lewis-McChord the 105th Forward Surgical Team and the 250th Forward Surgical Team (Airborne) operated out of a series of small tents and came together as one team to practice and perfect their skills. The culminating event was live surgeries conducted in tents at the training site Sept. 21.
“We performed surgery on patients out here in the field,” said Maj. Kelly Blair, surgeon 250th FST. “These folks have volunteered to have their hernias and minor surgeries done out here to allow our soldiers to train before we deploy for humanitarian missions, disaster relief missions or deploy to theater operations in Afghanistan or any other place worldwide,”
With the help of Madigan Healthcare System, who made sure the proper waivers were signed, the surgical teams were able to conduct six live surgeries as opposed to using training mannequins normally used during exercises.
“We have support from the 56th Multifunctional Medical Battalion, on the commo side, so we actually have secure satellite hook up into the network at the hospital,” said Maj. Joshua Paul, commander 250th FST. “We are actually doing live clinical data feeds to the database as we are taking care of patients. We have had hospital support, which picked the patients, as well as logistic support from Madigan.”
Satellite communications systems are just the tip of the iceberg for what the future holds for FSTs. By developing new techniques and faster processes for injured soldiers will allow them to better save lives.
“The roles of the FSTs are to provide far forward surgery and increase the already exceedingly high survival rate in combat. The American Army does a superb job of saving lives and the FSTs are getting better and better at making that rate as close to a hundred percent as humanly possible,” Paul said. “So the investment in time, investment in personnel and some fairly hi-tech equipment we have is all closing that gap and making us provide soldiers in the Army with the best possible medical care.”
Making the two surgical teams one could have been a challenge, but the two units pulled together to complete the mission.
“These two teams made it seem like they have been working together a few years,” said Blair. They are new to one another and have only worked together a few months. But the way they get along and how efficiently they take care of patients, its like they have been together their whole lives. Of course we have stressors, but they have done a flawless job and I’m proud of them.”
The two surgical teams will continue to train and practice over the coming months as they prepare for their role in the Army’s Defense Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosives (CBRNE) Response Force (DCRF).