By Scott Prater | Mountaineer staff
FORT CARSON, Colo. — Under the whir of spinning helicopter blades, medical NCOs began evaluating and triaging simulated wounded Soldiers during training at Fort Carson. Following the initial evaluation, patients were either transported to a nearby field surgical area or treated according to the severity of their injuries.
In a separate training area, surgical teams inside a field medical facility readied themselves and their equipment for a pending onslaught of simulated patients. Once the injured Soldiers arrived, medical teams then performed another triage and began coordinating emergency treatment.
During a five-day medical field training exercise (FTX), Oct. 18-22, 2021, Soldiers from four separate organizations worked with and alongside each other to coordinate plans and strategies, treat patients, test their skills and capabilities and experience a training environment that was as close to a real-world combat zone as possible.
Organized by Charlie Medical Company, 64th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, the FTX was designed to certify the unit’s Role-2 capability prior to an upcoming deployment. Joining them were elements of the 2nd Forward Resuscitation Surgical Detachment (FRSD), 627th Hospital Center, surgeons from Evans Army Community Hospital and air crews with the 2nd General Support Aviation Battalion, 4th Aviation Regiment, 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Inf. Div.
“With medical training, you have to incorporate an echelon of care,” said Capt. Lucas Musseau, commander, Charlie Medical Company, 64th BSB, 3rd ABCT. “We start at the battlefield and work from the point of injury. For us to practice we need to be able to practice with a surgical detachment, like we would if we were in a combat zone — aviation transports patients and then our teams move them throughout our facilities, all while providing a continuity of care.”
During the FTX, organizers, including Maj. Joe Costello, commander, 2nd FRSD, and Musseau devised a number of challenging scenarios for a variety of participating medical teams.
Charlie Med Soldiers were first tasked with setting up the field medical facility in a training area covered by knee-high grass. The team had to place tents, generators, equipment and supplies, with efficient spacing and placement order, in less than four hours. They then had two hours to set up the surgical team tents.
Musseau explained that teams also had the chance to test new X-ray machines, laboratory and ultrasound equipment as well as a walking blood-bank capability. Medical teams even incorporated medical manikins, which mimic humans in form and function and can be programed to simulate specific injuries and blood loss.
“As a forward surgical team, we can’t really conduct our mission if we run out of blood,” Costello said. “So, it was vital for us to test the walking blood bank. That’s important in a large-scale conflict.”
The walking blood bank incorporated surrounding Soldiers, who donated blood on the spot. Of all the scenarios trained on, this was one of the few real-world activities. Medics drew blood from Soldiers then simulated transfusions in the operating room.
“This training codified how we are going to interact with the brigade team,” Costello said. “We want to know how we are communicating, how we are integrating patient flow and how we can optimize the FRSD within a joint scenario.”
Throughout the week, medical teams performed over 25 evacuation missions, including both day and nighttime sling and hoist trainings with the 4th CAB air crews.
“We’re excited that our evacuation team is now certified with ground and air medical evacuation, for one thing,” Masseau said. “Our treatment platoon is also now able to collocate with an FRSD team and they understand how to mix triage with units they might attach to from here or Europe, or wherever the theater is. We now know how to integrate those capabilities better and I think we are ready and poised to take the next step for the walking blood bank. We want to make sure we are set up for success if we deploy.”