News: Aid station supports 4,000 soldiers during exercise
Story by Sgt. Anderson J. Grant
FORT HUNTER LIGGETT, Calif. — Normally U.S. Army Reserve soldiers with the 5502nd United States Army Hospital (USAH) out of Aurora, Colo., provide emergency and intensive care for injured soldiers during wartime or deployment. These medical soldiers are accustomed to working in a major hospital, applying their emergency response skills at the highest echelons of care on a daily basis.
However, as they provide medical support for Combat Support Training Exercise 91 13-01 (CSTX) at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., their most basic medical skills are utilized.
“Sprains, bumps, and colds,” laughed Capt. Tanya Cannon, a registered nurse with the 5502nd and officer-in-charge. “We have a doctor here that can see you, but it’s simple sick call stuff.”
“Our mission here at the CSTX is different from what we’re used to doing,” explained Cannon. “We did not deploy as a full hospital.”
The 5502nd set up a small aid station on Base Camp Schoonover and will be providing “level one” care which is aid not requiring higher echelons of care at another facility. There will be no mass casualty intake, no surgery, and no intensive care, said Cannon.
Cannon’s staff is trained in emergency medicine, and they are comfortable enough to handle any emergency that happens, she said. If patients come in with serious or life-threatening problems they will be cared for and stabilized until an ambulance arrives to transport them to Twin Cities Community Hospital in Templeton, Calif., she said. But according to Cannon, the CSTX objective is primarily real world injury relief.
Army observation teams will be grading them in an effort to reveal how successful they will be in support of mass casualty simulations and other combat scenarios, said Cannon.
First Lieutenant Joseph Poore, a Reserve soldier from Council Bluffs, Iowa, said working with the 5502nd as a staff nurse during the CSTX is actually very beneficial training, especially having been in the Army Reserve for only two years.
“I’m an OR (Operating Room) nurse in the civilian world and here. But we’re not dealing with the OR, so pretty much everything as far as Army medicine is going to be all new to me,” explained Poore. “I start IVs (intravenous therapy) all the time, and basic nursing skills. So anything that comes in is going to be an experience.”
Cannon said, so far, sinus issues and stomach problems seem to be the most common complaints from soldiers. “People are just not eating and taking care of themselves… coming to a new climate.” Cannon said she plans on helping soldiers take care of these issues by providing education about preventative medicine in a community outreach initiative.
“We are talking to the soldiers about hand hygiene. And we are making sure that if there is an outbreak we are catching it early, isolating it so that we are not having everybody running around sick.”
The CSTX is planned and coordinated by the 91st Training Division (Operations) at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif. The CSTX gives participating units and opportunity to rehearse military maneuvers and tactics such as base security, convoy operations, and battle reaction drills during simulated enemy attacks as well as apply their Military Occupational Specialty skills in a theater of operations. The exercise provides realistic training to units to successfully meet the challenges of an extended and integrated battlefield.