By Sgt. 1st Class Kevin P. BellMarch 27, 2017
After completing a field training exercise that was conducted on March 14-24, Joint Base Lewis-McChord's only Combat Support Hospital says they remain fully prepared to save lives during an upcoming deployment.
"Train like you Fight" is a motto often heard in the Army and that is exactly what the 47th Combat Support Hospital did.
The unit set up a 32-bed Early Entry Hospital in just 54 hours. The EEH provides all the support elements necessary to survive in a combat environment. One of the unit's training objectives was to deploy and establish the hospital and achieve the doctrinal 72-hour goal.
The unit not only met that goal, but exceeded it. "Generally, it takes 72 hours, but with the help of other 593rd ESC [Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)] elements such as the 13th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion and our own highly motivated personnel, we were able to rapidly establish this hospital in just 54 hours," said 47th CSH Commander Col. Robert Howe.
Howe says the exercise, dubbed "Operation Victory Arch," would not have been as realistic without the support of its Total Force partners from the Washington Army Reserve and Army National Guard.
The Army's Total Force Policy is an ongoing effort to transition its reserve component forces, both the Army Reserve and the National Guard, into an operational force. The intent is to create a seamless and holistic "total force" governed by the same interchangeable policies and procedures.
Soldiers from the 396th Combat Support Hospital, Washington Army Reserve from Vancouver, Wash., provided medical observer controllers and trainers. 1-168 General Support Aviation Battalion, Wash. Army National Guard, provided dedicated aviation support in the form of Chinook helicopters. The unit executed heavy-lift sling-load operations to establish the Forward Surgical Team and Blackhawk Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) helicopters for dedicated patient movement.
With all of the pieces in place, the hospital then tested its ability to save lives by conducting several mock mass casualty events.
Sgt. Brett Sutter, who works in the unit's Emergency Medical Technician section, says the realistic training provided during exercises like this is vitally important. "We need to know the ins and outs of our equipment and the processes and procedures of the hospital because if we deploy and the equipment doesn't work or we waste time because we don't know what to do, people will die."
Something reiterated by the unit's Sgt. Maj. Jason Holcombe.
"Everything we do here results in either the saving of life or the loss of life and that is something we take extremely seriously," says Holcombe.
"It takes the entire unit to complete this mission, right down to those responsible for keeping the generators running or ambulances moving or even guarding the gate," Holcombe added. "If we fail in any of those areas, no good comes out of that."
Col. Howe also said, "We've had over sixty patients come through this that we've put moulage [simulated injuries] on which really gives our clinical providers a chance to show their skills and prepare for operations we anticipate during our deployment."
"This has been an awesome opportunity to conduct some home-station training at a very high level. Something that will help us save lives during our deployment," said Howe in closing.