CAMP BASTION, AFGHANISTAN
CAMP BASTION, Helmand province, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan — The United Kingdom Medical Group runs the hospital here and recently offered a unique experience to Marine Aircraft Group 40 Navy corpsman by allowing them to assist in the trauma unit of the hospital.
Navy Capt. John McGurty, the flight surgeon for Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 772, arranged this opportunity through senior medical personnel at the hospital. He was previously serving as the senior flight surgeon for the 4th Marine Air Wing and has worked for 23 years in the emergency room department of a Peekskill, N.Y. McGurty felt the Camp Bastion Hospital would be a good way for MAG-40 doctors and corpsman to gain experience working with a trauma team.
"This is a tremendous experience for our corpsman to learn how to provide trauma care," said McGurty, "and this is something many of them may never experience in their careers."
Some of the corpsman have experienced trauma care while assigned to ground combat elements in the Marine Corps. With those units they provided initial medical care to injured personnel before they were sent to a hospital, like the one here, for follow on treatment.
"This has helped me better understand the hospital's role with trauma medicine and it allows me to obtain a broader outlook on medicine as a whole," explained Petty Officer 2nd Class Clint Peyton, a squadron corpsman with HMH-362 and native of Escondido, Calif. Peyton received his first experience with trauma patients when he was assigned to an infantry unit during the initial push into Iraq.
The trauma team that Peyton and his fellow corpsman work with requires each team member to rotate through different job assignments, along with their United Kingdom counterparts. These roles include scribe, runner, nurse and combat medical technician or corpsman.
When the MAG-40 corpsman arrived at the hospital, they were trained on the layout of the trauma rooms, what each role in a team consisted of and the variations in terminology used by the United Kingdom personnel.
McGurty explained that a term people in the United States would be familiar with was ICU or Intensive Care Unit. At the hospital here, that same facility is called the ITU or Intensive Treatment Unit. To further assist the U.S. Navy personnel with terms and slang, their counterparts put together a list of common words used in the hospital and what they mean in terms the Navy corpsman would understand.
"These guys are well trained, confident in their skills, integrated well with the command and motivated," said United Kingdom Capt. Charlotte Bloomfield, an emergency department team leader with the United Kingdom Medical Group. "They had to learn about some of the different equipment and become familiarized with how we do things, but the way we treat trauma patients is the same."
When walking into the trauma area, the unit cohesion is noticeable the second the door opens. Groups of U.S. Navy, United Kingdom Medical Group and British civilian medical personnel acted as though they have been working together for months, instead of just a few weeks.
Even though the initial intent of this joint effort was to provide U.S. Navy Sailors with the experience of working in a trauma department, some of their coalition counterparts added that they have learned a few things from the Sailors.
"I think this has been a good experience," said Medical Assistant Christopher Stokes, an assistant with the trauma team and member of the Royal Navy. "My job is nearly a mirror image of the U.S. guys here and I am scheduled to attach to a Royal Marine unit. These guys have given me advice on working with a unit like the Marines."
On top of the variety of military services working together in this joint medical effort, the coalition trauma teams deal with a wide variety of injuries, but accompanying the array of injuries is also a mixture of patients. This hospital treats not only coalition forces, but injured suspected enemy personnel and Afghanistan civilians as well.
When an Afghanistan patient arrives, the hospital is equipped with a group of translators to assist the trauma teams in obtaining family medical history and other needful information needed to provide the best and most appropriate medical care.
With all these moving parts, the United Kingdom Medical Group personnel have expressed their delight with the MAG-40 counterparts that have been learning from them and assisting them.
"These guys have never let me down and are extremely friendly," said Bloomfield. "I am happy to have them here and this has been a good experience all around."
Both the hospital staff and MAG-40 medical personnel are planning to keep this joint venture moving forward as the current corpsmen return to their respective units and a new group takes their place.
"I have been exceedingly happy with the combined effort of treating wounded and providing the best medical care," said McGurty. "There is no division here and everyone realizes we are full partners."
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