CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- Sailors with 2nd Medical Battalion got out of their comfort zone by conducting a week-long training exercise as part of the Health Service Augmentation Program training at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, April 18-22.
The aim of the HSAP training, a gear familiarization course, is to keep all members within 2nd Med. Bn. deployable at a moment’s notice. The sailors, all medical providers at the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital, spent a week in the field simulating scenarios they might encounter in a deployed environment.
“We have surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and corpsmen all coming from different departments within the hospital,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Rick Hernandez, an HSAP instructor and surgical technologist with the battalion. “They have to be able to work together in the event they are attached to a shock trauma platoon.”
A shock trauma platoon, a small unit of medical personnel, must provide medical first-aid to Marines in combat zones. An STP must stabilize trauma victims and prepare them to be moved to permanent medical facilities where they can receive further care.
“We’re all experienced health care providers, but we don’t know what gear we’re going to fall in on,” said Lt. Cmdr. Robert F. O’Donnell, a staff anesthesiologist at the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital. “We have to learn how to use different tactical, field compatible devices to accomplish the same mission that we accomplish in the hospital.”
The sailors were put through various scenario-based training events, where they were required to use gear that would be found in an STP.
“It allows us to provide the quality of care you would find in the hospital and transition it to the field more smoothly,” said O’Donnell.
The sailors were not only required to familiarize themselves with the equipment, but also with each other.
Hernandez says that each sailor brings a different skillset to the table, but communication is key when it comes to addressing the scenarios.
“All of us are used to working in our own area of providing healthcare, but we have to communicate with each other quickly and effectively because we’re dealing with emergency situations,” said O’Donnell. “You have to just practice communicating in this sort of environment until you get comfortable with it. I think as the week went on, we did exactly that.”