By Lt. Cmdr Bronwyn Low, Royal Australian Navy, Commander Task Force 176 Medical Planner
and Lt. Kristin Love, U.S. Navy, Fleet Surgical Team-1 Medical Regulating Control Officer
“G’day” and “Good afternoon” everyone,
Lt. Cmdr. Bronwyn Low from the Royal Australian Navy and Lt. Kristin Love from the U.S. Navy, Fleet Surgical Team ONE (FST-1), here. We are very pleased to provide insight on the collaborative efforts that have transpired in the Medical Department during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014 onboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5).
July 18 marked a very significant and eventful day for all our medical department personnel. We effectively conducted a tour of the medical and surgical spaces for distinguished visitor Rear Admiral Mayer, the Australian fleet commander, while conducting a mass casualty exercise and simultaneously coordinating four real-world medical evacuations (MEDEVACs).
We would like to give you a glimpse into the medical world with a brief overview of the composition of Fleet Surgical Team One and Peleliu Medical Department as well as provide insight on the mass casualty exercise and our RIMPAC journey.
Fleet Surgical Team One (FST-1)
FST-1 is embarked aboard Peleliu for the duration of RIMPAC. FSTs are elements of the operating forces designed to augment an already established medical department providing forward resuscitative medical and surgical Level Two capability.
FST-1 is headed by an officer in charge (OIC) and consists of the medical regulating control officer (MRCO), general surgeon, certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), primary care physician, critical care nurse, operating room nurse, advanced laboratory, surgical, radiological, and respiratory technicians, as well as general duty corpsmen.
Peleliu Medical Department
The Peleliu Medical Department is headed by a senior medical officer and consists of the medical administrative officer (MAO), primary care physician, dentist, independent duty corpsmen (IDC), dental hygienist, laboratory, surgical, radiological, pharmacy, aviation medicine, biomedical repair, preventive medicine, and laboratory technicians, and general duty corpsmen.
Mass Casualty Exercise
The shipboard medical environment presents numerous opportunities for personnel casualty situations to occur. Medical casualty exercises and drills ensure each person is prepared to do their part in the event of an emergency.
At approximately 13:40 on July 18, an exercise 9-line, or MEDEVAC request, was received from the Royal New Zealand Navy multi-role vessel HMNZS Canterbury (L 421). The simulated casualty involved three Sailors who were critically injured by a forklift. Canterbury was successful in stabilizing the patients whilst awaiting the MEDEVAC helicopter. The Peleliu medical team and FST-1 responded and arranged a helo transport to bring the casualties to Peleliu for further assessment and treatment, including possible surgery. The three casualties were treated during the flight by a Canterbury medic. On arrival they were quickly triaged and brought to the waiting medical team who immediately began treatment.
The casualty exercise was successful and it was a great way to test communication and interoperability between medical departments whilst also utilizing the operations and air departments. It was great to have our New Zealand colleagues aboard Peleliu to exchange thoughts on the MEDEVAC scenario and RIMPAC in general before they headed back to Canterbury.
A highlight of RIMPAC was taking part in the medical symposium held aboard Peleliu. This was a RIMPAC first and it was great to meet medical providers from all the participating nations. Each country had the opportunity to provide speakers who shared information and experiences that included humanitarian assistance and disaster relief response, combat trauma and cutting edge research. Hopefully, the symposium continues to be held during future RIMPACs.
Thank you and farewell…
We would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone on board Peleliu for making RIMPAC such a wonderful experience and for the warm welcome and friendship offered. We will return home at the end of the exercise with many stories to tell and people to stay in touch with. Best wishes for the rest of the deployment!