Sgt. John JacksoN, 1st Marine Logistics Group
FORWARD OPERATING BASE EDINBURGH, Afghanistan — Doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and corpsmen began April 10 like every other Tuesday – by conducting medical drills to prepare for the worst.
The sailors and Marines of the Shock Trauma Platoon and Forward Resuscitative Surgery System, conduct different medical scenarios every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday to ensure the medical personnel are prepared for any patient who arrives at their facility.
The morning of April 10, the 32 sailors and four security Marines were conducting a mass casualty drill. The medical personnel and Marines walked through what would need to happen if multiple wounded patients arrived at the facility at the same time. Shortly after the service members concluded the drill and each person knew their respective role, the sailors and Marines had to put the drill to test.
“We were walking through talking about mass casualty drills and laying out where everyone would be,” said Senior Chief Terry Green, the senior enlisted leader of the STP and FRSS at FOB Edinburgh. “We discussed how we would handle a situation if we got overwhelming numbers. Shortly after that, we got seven casualties in 15 minutes. Then another four on top of that.”
Following an incident in nearby Musa Qa’lah in Helmand Province, the STP and FRSS got the message that they would be receiving multiple critically wounded patients. Within seconds of the notification, the alarm bell rang, and the sailors and Marines sprang into action – turning the morning drill into reality.
“The STP is essentially equivalent to an [Emergency Room] in the U.S.,” said Petty Officer Third Class Joshua Wright, a hospital corpsman with STP FOB Edinburgh. “We are basically a level one trauma center that is designed to take anything from stomach aches to blast injuries.”
In less than an hour, 11 patients were brought by helicopter to the medical suite for treatment, surgery and life-saving care.
“We saw everything from amputations, penetrating trauma to the chest, head trauma and internal injuries,” Green said. “We also had fairly simple injuries where the patient was able to walk off the [helicopter].”
“As far as an emergency situation goes, we probably saw about every emergency you can think of with those 11 patients,” said Navy Lt. Nicole Lunceford, emergency medicine physician, FOB Edinburgh STP.
Approximately three hours after the STP and FRSS received the notification that they would be getting patients, the injured had been cared for and sent to other hospitals in the area for follow-on care. During those intense three hours, the medical personnel had completed blood transfusions, numerous X-Rays, three surgeries, fragment extractions and other medical procedures. Ten of the 11 casualties survived their injuries.
“In the morning we were discussing how we would run a mass casualty situation and discussing roles,” Lunceford said. “Although you can’t really fully prepare for it, you just have to step up to the plate and do it. That’s what happened today. Our corpsmen were amazing; the nurses were amazing; the doctors did everything they needed to do.
“It was a huge group effort, and I think we did a good job. It’s what we are here to do.”