News: Corpsmen ensure Marines, sailors ready to deploy
Story by Lance Cpl. Timothy Childers
USS PELELIU – When corpsmen take the brave step to wear the “green” uniform and serve alongside Marines, the distance between themselves and their “blue” origins may grow. However, when the “docs” come together, they work cohesively as a blue-green team.
During the three-week Composite Training Unit Exercise, starting here, July 17, corpsmen from the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group began working together in the USS Peleliu’s medical department.
“We come together with a one-team-one-fight mindset,” said Senior Chief James Helt, medical planner, Command Element, 15th MEU. “We have to support one another in order for the MEU Command Element, fleet surgical team and the ship medical team to work cohesively.”
The team, close in size to a county hospital, is not only capable of providing dental care and operating sick call, where servicemembers can receive treatment for minor illnesses and injuries, they can also perform up to level 2 trauma surgeries that include open abdominal procedures, care for individuals in intensive care, give blood, develop x-rays, and give vaccinations.
“We are the largest medical hospital at-sea that can operate in a combat environment,” added Helt, 40, from Des Moines, Iowa. “With the amount of sailors working here, it’s crucial we work together.”
The corpsmen are currently working to ensure servicemembers are medically ready to deploy later this year. This requires the staff to ensure all Marines and sailors in the PELARG are fit for service, have the right vaccinations, and are free of illness or injury.
“I’m in charge of the MEU’s medical readiness,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Wendell Tabios, corpsman, Command Element, 15th MEU. “We take care of Navy and Marine patients. All corpsmen help, it doesn’t matter if you’re blue or green, everyone will do his or her part and make sure to take care of Marines and sailors.”
Corpsmen from both sides work together to maintain a complete team concept. The medical center needs the green-side counterparts to fill in when the Navy staff is required to support other operations that may include sick call or even a mass casualty. Likewise, when the MEU has Marines on the ground, the blue-side will support, said Senior Chief Scott Loflin, senior chief hospital corpsman, USS Peleliu.