HONOLULU — More than 26 nations and over 25,000 personnel across the Indo-Pacific participated in the Rim of the Pacific, or RIMPAC, 2022 exercise showcasing multi-lateral interoperability.
Along with numerous Navy medical assets, the 8th Army Forward Resuscitative and Surgical Detachment and medical assets from 325th Brigade Support Battalion boarded the USS Essex on July 11 to exercise patient evacuation management, surgical intervention, and prolonged casualty care at sea.
“This exercise was a proof of concept for an Army medical unit to set-up and secure equipment in an afloat setting,” said 1st Lt. Haley Greer, 8th Forward Resuscitative Surgical Detachment Executive Officer. “It was an opportunity to support joint partners and to test the resuscitative, surgical, and patient hold flexibility that will be needed during Large Scale Combat Operations.”
Capt. Katie Harper, an Emergency Medicine Physician, added to the conversation, “While all members of the medical team are experts in their field [emergency medicine, general surgery and orthopedic surgery], learning to operate on a naval vessel, and understanding the nuances of patient flow on a ship, are vital to exercising expanded resuscitative and surgical capability on a non-standard platform.”
RIMPAC is the largest international maritime exercise and is the pathway for a wide range of capabilities to be assessed. One of the capabilities validated by the 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) was the single integrated medical logistics manager, or SIMLM, which serves as the functionality between strategic and operational medical logistics.
“RIMPAC 22 allowed us to operationalize our responsibility as the SIMLM. We were able to coordinate the re-supply of Class VIII medical items to the USS Essex while at sea,” said Maj. Tanishia Greene, 18th Medical Command Theater Medical Logistics Officer in Charge.
U.S. code requires each service branch to provide its own logistics support; however, in a joint operation, one service can be named the lead agent, or SIMLM, in order to promote supply chain efficiency and minimize the medical logistics footprint within the theater.
With 26 nations involved, RIMPAC was also an opportunity to make a statement about our commitment to work together.
“The first week of the exercise, the Army, Navy and Australian medical assets unified into surgical, resuscitative, and triage teams in order to exercise prolonged casualty care at sea,” said Army Emergency Medicine physician, Capt. Mia Guerts. “The culminating event was a large-scale mass casualty event that allowed us to exercise multi-lateral medical capabilities to include walking blood bank protocols and surgical intervention.”
“It was a chance to foster and sustain partnerships that may be needed in the future” added 1st Lt. Haley Greer. “We were able to learn from each other and exercise multi-lateral medical interoperability that is necessary for both humanitarian assistance, disaster relief and large-scale combat operations.”
“A free and open Indo-Pacific requires multi-lateral cooperation and interoperability with global partners,” said Brig. Gen. Paula Lodi, 18th Medical Command (Deployment Support) commanding general. “As the Theater Medical Command, we have a responsibility to set the theater for medical operations. Synchronizing the Army Health System with Joint and Combined partners is how we win in the Indo-Pacific.”