FORT HOOD, Texas — Accomplishing one’s mission within the comforts of well-established infrastructure is important, but the Army’s success depends on a unit’s ability to be expeditionary. Operating in a field environment can mean the difference between life and death, and thus requires meticulous training and real-world experience.
183 medical professionals from the 11th Field Hospital, 1st Medical Brigade, participated in III Corps’ annual Joint Emergency Medicine Exercise June 6-11.
Hosted by Carl R. Darnell Hospital, over 380 medical professionals from 11th Field Hospital, 1st Cavalry Division, CRDAMC and units from across Ft. Hood and installations around the nation, along with graduating residents from CRDAMC, the U.S. Navy and Air Force, conducted realistic, hands-on, combat casualty care training to increase their Individual Critical Task List and unit Mission Essential Task List priorities, as well as increasing the interoperability between the Armed Forces.
Lt. Col. Seth T. French, Commander, 11th Field Hospital, took the reins of the unit in April, and welcomed the opportunity to participate in an exercise of this magnitude.
“This is an opportunity for commanders to exercise training at the collective level to help their Soldiers hone their skills in the deployment, establishment and execution of Role 3 surgical intervention all
while building cohesive teams,” French said.
During the exercise and in real-time, the field hospital is designed to provide Role 3 medical assistance to include; triage, point of care, intermediate care, emergency care and surgical capabilities.
When medical units deploy in support of the warfighter, setting the field site is the crucial first step and it was no different for this exercise. In order to save lives, the field hospital must be initially set-up to receive its first patients within 12 hours, and fully operational within 72 hours.
Sgt. 1st Class Sean Crabbe, 9th Hospital Center, is a 19-year clinical nurse specialist. Crabbe serves as the chief ward master responsible for the hospital’s design, and his team is always part of the advance echelon.
“I survey the layout and design the hospital based on the terrain,” Crabbe said. “Little nuances people don’t think about I plan in my design.”
Although from the outside looking in people focus on the medical aspect of the training, the support element is the most crucial part in expeditionary support to the warfighter.
2nd Lt. Ian Cunningham, Executive Officer for 11th Field Hospital, served as the ADVON officer-in-charge and explained the importance of the set-up.
“A lot of times, the ‘a’ in the U.S. Army Medical Department (AMEDD) gets overlooked,” Cunningham said. “We are medical providers but Soldiers first. Getting the hospital established is a no fail mission.”
Another crucial aspect of the field hospital set-up is the ICW, and Staff Sgt. Jose Arreola, Detachment Sergeant, 198th Medical Detachment, has been the noncommissioned officer-in-charge of the Intermediate Care Ward for multiple exercises over the past 25 months.
“The ICW augments the field hospital with 60 additional beds,” Arreola said. “It helps off-set the patient load so patients don’t get backed up in the operating room or intensive care unit.”
After the exercise kicked off, the field hospital received medically evacuated patients, and were able to train with real-life training aides, which allowed them to train and focus on their most critical tasks needed in support the warfighter, and French appreciated what the event helped them accomplish.
“The relationship between the 11th Field Hospital and CRDAMC provided an invaluable training experience, drawing expertise from the professionals within the hospital’s EMT section, operating room suite, sterilization processing department, ICU, and ICW,” French said. “The exercise tested the acumen of medical residents and built cohesive teams through challenging and realistic interdisciplinary patient scenarios across multiple roles of care.”
Respiratory therapist, Staff Sgt. Leonesa Leiato, CRDAMC, also believed the training gave newer RTs something beneficial.
“We have RTs that have been in field hospitals but have no field experience,” Leiato said. “Now they have the experience of what trauma care looks like.”
Although a lot goes into training exercises such as this, it’s crucial Soldiers take away their importance.
“Make your mistakes here,” Arreola said. “Ask questions and learn your individual roles.”
With teams already deployed, French is confident his medical professionals will be prepared to answer the call when needed after observing this training.
“Participating in this exercise allowed the 11th Field Hospital to demonstrate mastery in the deployment and establishment of the four units that comprise the battalion,” French said. “The training exercise allowed the Soldiers the opportunity to share their expertise with multi-service residents, and our Soldiers gleaned training from the residents throughout the exercise.”