4th Medical Bn. provides ‘FRSS Aid’ during Agile Spirit 2011
VAZIANI TRAINING AREA, Republic of Georgia — Marines undergo tough training with physical, mental and emotional challenges to prepare them for missions around the world. But through these varied training environments and rough conditions, beside them are their Navy corpsmen, ready to protect the Marines they serve from injury and illness. When Marines are injured on the front lines, their Navy brethren have to be able to give quick, efficient care to keep them alive.
The surgeons and corpsmen of 4th Medical Battalion, Pittsburgh, Penn., are displaying that capability while deployed to the Republic of Georgia and participating in Exercise Agile Spirit 2011.
The main effort is to run a Forward Resuscitative Surgical Suite (FRSS) to treat injuries in a quick and timely manner.
“There’s a [FRSS] everywhere where a Marine can be in harm’s way,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Dinsley N. Harris, independent duty corpsman with Black Sea Rotational Force 11.
“It’s like an emergency room but forward deployed,” added the Bethesda, Md., native.
A FRSS, which is set up with two general-purpose tents, is equipped with everything needed to provide emergency resuscitative surgery on the frontlines: operating table, anesthesia circuit, portable oxygen generator, monitors, ventilators, blood bank, ultra-sound device, x-ray machines and all surgical equipment.
“The whole goal is to be able to rapidly assemble it, provide emergency resuscitative surgery if necessary, stabilize the patient, and evacuate the casualty to a higher level of care,” said Cmdr. James P. Cole Jr., trauma surgeon, A Surgical Co., 4th Med. Bn.
“You can’t move an entire field hospital or medical military facility far into the combat zone, so the fact that it’s modular and mobile means we can go as far into the ‘fighting environment’ as reasonably possible to treat injured casualties.”
While in Georgia, the FRSS was co-located with the Georgian medical personnel so the corpsman and surgeons were able to perform combined-forces medical training including, mock mass-casualty drills, medical emergency scenarios and Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) procedures and techniques.
“The Georgians have medics and nurses that are very competent and eager to not only learn from us but to take care of their people as well as ours,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Adam C. Strotz, hospital corpsman, A. Surgical Co., 4th Med. Bn.
“[From the Georgians] we’ve learned that you can do a lot with very little, and that you can bring back things that were done in the past and get success.”
The FRSS is considered the second echelon of medical care that follows the first level; immediate first aid on the front lines. After surgical resuscitation from the FRSS, the third level of care is a combat-support hospital that can provide more advanced medical and trauma care. The fourth level, outside the combat zone, provides definitive care before a casualty is transferred to the fifth level, a health care or medical center in the U.S.
In addition to the training aspect, the FRSS is fully operational and capable of treating Marines during their counterinsurgency training for Agile Spirit.
“We’re providing real support. In case something goes off, we’re ready to go,” said Cole. “[We’ve] done this many times, not just in training but in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are very comfortable with this and our team came together very quickly on a level that would make it easy to treat a casualty,” added the Sycamore, Ill., native.
4th Med. Bn. is comprised of reservists who are actively practicing in the civilian medical world and are included with the 350 other U.S. Marines and sailors training alongside nearly 450 Georgian soldiers from the Georgian 4th Infantry Brigade in the Vaziani Training Area.
“You need surgeons, nurses, pharmacy technicians and these guys are actually doing their jobs in their civilian life, so they are well aware of how to do their job,” said Harris.
“It’s good being with Marines; on the Navy side you might get more luxuries but with Marines you get that camaraderie. Civilians don’t appreciate medical as much as Marines do.”
Agile Spirit 2011 is the first of a scheduled annual exercise that supplements the U.S. military partnership with Georgia and the Georgia Deployment Program that prepares troops to deploy to Afghanistan in support of the International Security Assistance Force. Agile Spirit is designed to increase interoperability between forces by exchanging and enhancing each other’s capacity in counterinsurgency and peacekeeping operations.
Black Sea Rotational Force is a rotational deployment of Marines to the Black Sea, Balkan and Caucasus regions of Eastern Europe to participate in the security cooperation to build military capacity, provide regional stability, and develop lasting partnerships with nations in the region. BSRF-11 will be operating as a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force until September of this year.
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