Thirteen medical providers from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, completed the Trauma Nursing Core Course March 8, enhancing their ability to quickly assess and treat patients with traumatic life-threatening injuries received at war or at home.
"When we say trauma we are talking about events or injuries that can be life threatening if they are not treated quickly. These can include injuries from car and motorcycle accidents, gunshot wounds, explosions and falls," said Leroy Cantrell, a nurse educator from the Defense Medical Readiness Training Institute at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Cantrell travels to military installations throughout the country and overseas to teach TNCC training for the Defense Health Agency.
The Department of Defense requires every military or federal service nurse to successfully complete TNCC every four years. The training is based on a nationwide standard of the most common trauma skills emergency room and trauma nurses may require when treating patients with traumatic life-threatening injuries. This standard improves medical personnel's ability to rapidly identify life-threatening injuries, conduct comprehensive patient assessment and perform intervention for better patient outcomes. The training is also available to medics and other military personnel who may serve as first responders in combat or during a mass casualty.
"My sergeant notified me about the training and I wanted to refresh on my skills a little bit. I used to work in a post-anesthetic care unit so this seemed like a good idea to refresh on those skills and get some practice," said Spc. Sean Colangelo, an enlisted nurse from the 86th Combat Support Hospital "Eagle Medics" who attend the training provided at Blanchfield.
Some of the topics covered in the TNCC include initial assessment, brain and cranial-facial trauma, burn trauma, abdominal trauma, airway and ventilation, stabilization, transfer and transport, and age-related trauma care for infants and geriatric patients. The DOD course also had modules for battlefield triage and battlefield wounds, some of which, said Cantrell, can be very similar to trauma seen in the ER.
"The importance of trauma care is profound. You must be highly skilled in order to care for trauma patients. We want to provide the best care we can and by doing classes like TNCC we get better and we're able to provide better care, safer care, and we can impact more lives safely," said local course director Julie McIntosh, a registered nurse from Blanchfield Army Community Hospital's emergency center. McIntosh became a TNCC instructor at a previous duty station and since transferring to Fort Campbell has worked to grow Blanchfield's TNCC program.
Cantrell also trains and evaluates TNCC instructors and course directors so military treatment facilities like BACH may operate their own TNCC programs. During this visit Cantrell was able to certify McIntosh as a TNCC instructor trainer, the last qualification needed for the hospital to run its own program. It was a process that took two years to complete and improves the hospital's ability to enhance readiness by offering the training to more people while saving time and money associated with temporary duty.
"We had a program but it was very small and we could only cover the ER and the ICU nurses because those are the ones who encounter the most trauma victims," said McIntosh. "What it means for our hospital is that we can build a very robust program. We can train more medics so that when they go down range we can have them practicing the same way that the nurses do. We can train more nurses. As a facility, we can be practicing the same way."
The training features a classroom segment and a hands-on segment where participants practice the techniques they've studied. Participants must pass a written exam and successfully demonstrate their ability to perform and explain the learned skills at several skill-stations to receive their qualification.
"The course has been used in the military for more than 20 years. It keeps our nurses at a higher level of training, demonstrating their ability to quickly identify, assess and treat patients who have sustained life-threatening injuries," said Cantrell. "Outside the military this course is primarily for ER nurses throughout the country. The military chose this course because our nurses go to war and most of the trauma they see will be in the ER setting -- acute care trauma coming straight in. Our goal is to make sure all nurses get a taste of [trauma care] and to understand that at any time they could be called upon to do this assessment."
The TNCC is offered at DMRTI and at some military installations. DOD medical personnel who need to complete the TNCC should contact their unit training department for more information.