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PYEONGTAEK, SOUTH KOREA -- Improving the health and resiliency of service men and women on the Korean peninsula and maintaining a “Fight Tonight” readiness are cornerstones of the medical mission of the 65th Medical Brigade and its subordinate units.

Only July 30, 2020 the 121st Field Hospital of the 549th Hospital Center and its subordinate medical detachments along with the 568th Medical Company Ground Ambulance conducted a leader’s time training event showcasing the unit’s medical capabilities with a demonstration for Republic of Korea Army senior medical leadership and the U.S. Navy’s 30th Medical Battalion.

The leaders were shown the capabilities of the field hospital concept through a simulated mass casualty exercise that involved simulated medical care to three injured Soldiers.

Days prior to the exercise, the unit successfully deployed air-supported tents utilizing all components (generators, power cables, power distribution boxes and lights) and successfully completed building of the command post, a critical corridor and major care units such as the laboratory, pharmacy, blood bank, operating room, emergency room, Intensive Care Unit and Intermediate Care Ward.

This opportunity enabled the unit to develop and refine Tactics, Techniques and Procedures. During this event, Soldiers not only improved their proficiencies on Modification Table of Organization and Equipment and patient care in tactical environment but also enhanced their understanding of the field hospital Role III capabilities for the Emergency Room, Operating Room, Intensive Care Unit, Intermediate Care Ward, Laboratory, Pharmacy and Blood Bank for the 32-bed field hospital.

Providing Role III care at the field hospital, the patient is treated in a medical treatment facility staffed and equipped to provide care to all categories of patients, including resuscitation, initial wound surgery, damage control surgery and postoperative treatment.

In efforts to strengthen the alliance and interoperability with their host nation partners and sister medical units, the 121st not only demonstrated the field hospital’s capabilities, but gave the medical senior leaders an understanding of the patient flow and communication flow from within a tactical environment. “It was a great opportunity to demonstrate our capabilities to our counterparts’ senior leadership and have direct interaction with them to cross-educate our knowledge and skills,” said Lt. Col. Chadwick Milligan, 121st field hospital commander.

The field hospital design is based on lessons learned from more than a decade of combat that have reinforced the Army's need to have forward-based medical capabilities that are advanced yet also agile and logistically scalable. Traditional combat support hospitals have proven to be too large and logistically difficult to deploy as a whole, which is why the Army has historically only deployed "slices" or sections of them. The move to the field hospital design codifies that practice by restructuring the combat support hospital in the way it is primarily used – as a customizable, scalable resource.

Last year, the 121st Combat Support Hospital converted from its current 248-bed legacy and constructed into the 549th Field Hospital Center with two 32-bed field hospitals (121st FH and 502nd FH) task organized underneath it and an additional four detachments – the 129th Medical Detachment (32-bed surgical), the 150th Medical Detachment (32-bed medical), the 125th Medical Detachment (60-bed ICW), the 197th Medical Detachment (60-bed ICW) and the 135th Forward Resuscitative Surgical Team, providing combat commanders with a ‘plug and play’ hospital system depending on what is needed on the battlefield.

“549th Hospital Center’s mission is to build medical readiness through excellence in healthcare delivery and operationalize the medical ready force in order to support Eighth U.S. Army, joint and combine forces in defense of the Korean peninsula,” said Col. Huy Luu, 549th HC Commander. “As the only fully doctrinally organized hospital center in the Department of the Army, our staff, two subordinated field hospitals, and the four other detachments are fully committed to this mission.”

The 549th Hospital Center is the first fully doctrinally organized hospital center in the Department of the Army with a fully converted and staffed field hospital. In the future, the Army plans to convert the rest of the active-duty CSH’s into FH’s, as well as Army Reserve Hospitals that are part of the Medical Materiel Readiness Program and Army Prepositioned Stocks.