By Ronald WolfDecember 21, 2019
CAMDEN, New Jersey -- Keeping medical skills of military personnel ready requires intense training, including how to handle trauma care in both the deployed and garrison environments. To ensure emergency medical services, especially trauma care, are kept sharp, the U.S. Army Medical Command is partnering with civilian trauma hospitals such as Cooper University Health Care, in Camden, New Jersey. Strategic Medical Asset Readiness Training, or Operation SMART, is preparing medics and other medical specialties to provide medical care that can help save lives of service personnel.
The Army Medical Command developed Operation SMART to establish partnerships with civilian healthcare facilities to train military personnel and enable them to sustain their skills.
On December 13, nine U.S. Army and Air Force military personnel graduated the first SMART cohort at Cooper University Health Care. The class trained in emergency medicine, trauma care, radiology, laboratory, and patient care management.
Cooper is a Level I trauma center and academic health system. The health system is highly qualified to provide hands-on training for military medical personnel to gain the experience and skills to save lives on the battlefield. The hands-on training boosts the Soldiers' confidence in delivering patient care and enhances individual medical skills.
The medical personnel in the SMART program include combat medics, licensed practical nurses, and specialists in a range of clinical and administrative health care areas. The specialists train to work in the operating room, laboratory, radiology department, pharmacy, and other non-clinical areas.
To date, more than 125 military personnel have received the intensive two-week training. Personnel are from all components -- Active Duty, National Guard, and Reserve -- and are a cross-service mix from the Army, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
Graduation speaker Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg, Senior Enlisted Advisor, U.S. Army Medical Command, said, "You are an Airman; you are a Soldier. What you do for your particular service is what really matters at this point in time. And what you're doing right now is building readiness so that when our service members go overseas and are placed in harm's way, they know that they're going to get the best medical care in the world -- if they become injured."
The SMART program was established in August 2018 as part of the Army Medical Department Medical Skills Sustainment Program (AMSSP); it is managed by the U.S. Army Office of the Surgeon General (OTSG). The SMART Program has been partnering since 2018 with the University of Cincinnati Health Center, Cincinnati, Ohio, and Hackensack University Medical Center, Hackensack, New Jersey. Operation SMART events are held quarterly.
Cooper University Health Care is now the third location among the Army Medicine partnerships to provide specialized medical training to Active Duty, National Guard and Reserve personnel from the U.S. military as part of Operation SMART. Cooper is one of the leading academic health systems providing medical training to military personnel.
With the program successfully established in Cincinnati, Hackensack, and Camden, OTSG plans to expand the program to other locations that are close to large numbers of Guard and Reserve Soldiers as well as Active Duty installations.
Prospective future cities for expanding the SMART Program include Dallas, Texas; Laredo, Texas; and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
The Operation SMART initiative is improving operational readiness to enhance the Army's responsive medical capabilities and helping to ensure a ready medical force.