News: Seconds Make a Difference
Story by Staff Sgt. Joseph Swafford
PUL-E KHUMRI, Afghanistan -- For 10 members of the U.S. Army 541st Forward Surgical Team, seconds count when it comes to the life saving surgical and resuscitative care given to their patients.
The 541st arrived in Pol-e Khumri in March as the only U.S. presence in the city. The team consists of a surgeon, nurses, medics, operating room technicians and other medical specialists.
The team sees ten patients on average per week, to include Afghan National Security Force members, International Security Assistance Force members, and local Afghan civilians.
“When someone is bleeding to death every second makes a difference,” said U.S. Army Maj. Jason M. Seery, 541st FST Commander/Surgeon. “By having the types of personalities we have and the techniques we use, we have been able to dramatically increase our speed and in turn increase the likelihood of our patients surviving.”
FSTs started in the early 1990s and really came on line in the early 2000s. Thanks to immediate surgical intervention, these teams provide the ability to control bleeding and save patients from trauma. This has been a major change in the way that combat patients are treated since the days of the Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals.
The 541st FST contributes to the region by relieving some of the burden on the local hospital. They treat ANSF members and provide life saving procedures not available at the local hospital.
The team also gives hands-on training to coalition partners and ANSF members, so that they too have the skills and training to make a difference for their people.
“I love my job as the commander and surgeon on the team,” said Seery. “We are contributing greatly to the region where previously there were no surgical assets available.”
The 541st is also developing a partnership with the local hospital by treating patients the hospital does not have the capabilities to treat.
“Thank God they are here; they have really helped my son,” said Sayed Yasin, a Pol-e Khumri resident whose son was being treated by the 541st. “They are serving the people of the region without any aim or target. They not only did a big job for me, but for the people of Pol-e Khumri.”