Highly diverse Medical Capabilities Integration Center at the heart of Army medical knowledge
August 19, 2010
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- If it has anything to do with medical battlefield tactics, techniques, personnel, organizational structures or equipment, then Fort Sam Houston's Medical Capabilities Integration Center has had something to do with it.
"Our responsibilities range from developing the overall operational concept for a theater of operations down to developing the detailed doctrine, tactics, techniques and procedures manuals," said Hershell Moody, deputy chief of the Medical Capabilities Integration Center at the Army Medical Department Center & School.
The MCIC oversees a group of five diverse and far-ranging directorates that do everything from looking at lessons learned from theaters of operation, to creating databases that track battle injuries, to developing textbooks for military medicine, to testing and evaluating medical equipment and much more.
For example, the Direct-orate of Combat and Doctrine Development develops concepts, organizations, materiel, and doctrine for force health protection to the Army and identifies operational and clinical capabilities and develop requirement solutions.
Meanwhile, the Center for AMEDD Strategic Studies plans, programs, performs, and publishes complex, organized analytic assessments and evaluations in support of decision- and policy-making, management, and administration of Army medicine.
While the mission of the AMEDD C&S is to envision, design and train a premier military medical force for full spectrum operations in support of the nation, the MCIC is basically where the data to put that force together comes from.
"Depending on changes in the operational concept, it may lead us to see how we design a combat field hospital, along with all the support activities, and also look at the patient workload," Moody said. "Did we put the right amount of air ground ambulances in a certain unit' Will it accomplish that workload'"
One valuable resource for military medical personnel is the AMEDD Lessons Learned Office that collects, analyzes, maintains, and disseminates unit observations and experiences from the Combat Training Centers, unit deployments and operational exercises. The office is supported by a content-heavy website at http://lessonslearned.amedd. army.mil.
"When Army medical people get back from a theater of operation, they can enter what lessons they learned from being in that area. We take a look at this and see if it prompts any changes in doctrine, changes in the organizational structure of how that unit was built, or if the structure needs to be changed by adding people or additional equipment," Moody said.
"Are there changes or deficiencies in the medical equipment being used' Are there deficiencies in training or leadership'" Moody added. "Lessons learned provides a continuous playback loop to us.
"The question is, are we making a temporary fix for that particular theater of operation or is it going to be a permanent fix'" Moody added. "Right now, we are in a counterinsurgency type of operation. It's not a major combat operation we are fighting. There are things that are unique about this particular theater of operation.
"The bottom line is that each theater you go into is going to be different," Moody said. "There's no way you can design a perfect organizational structure.
"Looking at the lessons learned is a continuous process, looking to ensure our structure, our doctrine, our leadership, our materiel, our training, is what it should be and if there are any deficiencies, how can we address them'"
While analyzing the present and the past can help in the design of the medical arm of the U.S. Army, it can also help to predict the future of military medicine.
"We looked around and saw the number one killer on the battlefield is bleeding out from wounds. Troops have made all kinds of jury-rigged tourniquets, but what we needed was a real good one, and at the same time we need a better bandage to put on the wound," Moody said. "What we came up with was the IFAK, the Improved First Aid Kit."
The IFAK contains a tourniquet, gauze, gloves, bandages, surgical tape and a nasopharyngeal airway, which relieves upper airway obstruction.
"We also found out recently the combat lifesaver is being trained to start an intravenous line, "Moody said.
"He was taking all this time to start an IV, while his primary job was just to keep the guy breathing and keep them from bleeding to death. The IFAK, which weighs about a pound and fits in an ammo pouch, was created to achieve just that."
(Editor's Note: Future articles will go into greater detail about the missions of the various MCIC directorates.)