News: Medics maintain skills during deployment
Story by Spc. Crystal Hudson
CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq - Continuing education is more than a concept for soldiers with the 256th Combat Support Hospital serving at Contingency Operating Base Speicher, Iraq. Every week, they hold training exercises that simulate treating soldiers in an emergency situation.
The Army Reservists from Ohio take time to maintain, refresh and improve their medical skills so that they are prepared for the many possibilities that deployments bring.
“You are provided with a new environment within a heartbeat, and you learn to function to your fullest capability,” said Sgt. Davette Campbell, laboratory technician with the 256th CSH.
Campbell explained, the resources that the hospital has, even the hospital itself, could go away at any time. Despite this, the Army has taught the soldiers to provide services and operate at 100 percent efficiency, even when the times get tough.
The ongoing training the soldiers receive helps them to deal with the challenges they face in an atmosphere unlike what they work in at home.
“You see a lot of different stuff that you don’t see in the civilian environment, like malaria,” said Campbell, who is also a laboratory technician in her civilian career. “But the job is still the same. You learn to overcome and adapt to your new environment.”
The mock injuries and mass-casualty situations help the soldiers to know what to expect when actual emergencies take place.
After a severely wounded patient is transported to the hospital, Lt. Col. Dennis Martinez, an emergency physician specializing in initial stabilization and resuscitation, is tasked with preparing the patient for surgery.
Being aggressive in terms of resuscitation, fluids, blood transfusion, airway management and x-ray evaluations can save a patient's life, Martinez said.
Martinez explained that the first hour after a patient’s injury dictates what happens to the patient, this is referred to as the “golden hour.”
The golden hour includes the time that it takes to transport the patient to the nearest hospital.
“In most cases, there are distances to be traveled; the longer distances getting to the facility work against the soldier in terms of chances of survival,” Martinez added.
The regular training provided to the soldiers of the 256th CSH gives them the tools necessary to quickly evaluate and assess an injured soldier during an emergency.
Martinez concluded, “It is my duty to make sure that American soldiers return home.”