Team members with the U.S. Army Medical Materiel Development Activity (USAMMDA) completed a field operational assessment Nov. 5 at Fort Liberty, North Carolina, testing the field-worthiness of the Prolonged Care Augmentation Detachment (PCAD) medical equipment set (MES).
The USAMMDA Medical Field Systems Project Management Office team partnered with test officers belonging to the U.S. Army Medical Test and Evaluation Activity (USAMTEAC) and Soldiers with the 36th Medical Company Area Support (MCAS) during a field exercise to test and assess the progress of the PCAD MES.
During the assessment, the MFS medical developers and USAMTEAC evaluators gathered data on device and treatment performance as U.S. Army Soldiers with 36th MCAS put the PCAD MES through its paces during scenario-based training at Fort Liberty’s Holland Drop Zone. The PCAD MES is designed to equip joint force medics and medical officers to provide lifesaving and life prolonging combat casualty treatment at and near the front lines.
The event also provided USAMMDA with a Soldier touchpoint for the Ventway Sparrow Portable Resuscitator (VSPR) currently in development. VSPR is designed to provide resuscitative assistance for injured and wounded service members during en route care.
Field assessments are a vital source of feedback for USAMMDA developers, who partner with both Department of Defense and industry stakeholders to find new solutions for casualty treatment challenges and to refine products currently in use. Opportunities to see devices and equipment sets during unit level training allow development teams to both observe products in use during real-world scenarios and to hear valuable feedback from prospective end users, according to Aimee F. Dacanay, a product manager with USAMMDA’s MFS PMO.
“These types of cross-organizational partnerships are vital to our development teams and the development process,” said Dacanay. “Without USAMTEAC and medical companies like 36th MCAS to work alongside, our program managers and development teams would not have the data we require to meet development milestones, or the end user input we rely on to shape our approach to product development.”
USAMMDA, which is composed of four PMOs with development teams focusing on combat casualty and preventative medicine treatment programs, has several dozen products in various stages of development at any one time. The development process is sometimes prolonged and always exhaustive to meet the standards of both the Department of Defense and the Food and Drug Administration. The USAMMDA teams work with the clear focus of meeting the needs of the military end user, and information and data gathered during field assessments help refine the development processes, from conception to procurement and fielding, according to Dacanay.
“Getting out in the field in an environment like frontline medics and medical officers could experience during future operations is helpful because it creates an opportunity for instantaneous feedback,” said Dacanay. “We can see how end users employ devices, we can hear their questions, we can work with testing officers to identify areas for improvement, and all of that is extremely important to ensuring the final product meets the end users’ needs when the devices are fielded.”
A vital step in USAMMDA’s development program is meeting program milestones to ensure products meet benchmark requirements of both the U.S. Army and the DoD. During the training and assessment at Fort Liberty, the MFS team worked alongside USAMTEAC evaluators to measure the effectiveness of the PCAD MES during several combat casualty scenarios run by the 36th MCAS medics and medical officers. Working with Soldiers in the field and seeing how products perform in real-world conditions help developers and evaluators identify successful strategies and areas for improvement throughout the development process, according to Lt. Col. Sharen Denson, chief of USAMTEAC’s Medical Materiel Systems Operational Test and Evaluation Branch.
“Operational testing events like this enable us to put medical materiel and technologies, like the MES PCAD, into the hands of the end user,” said Denson. “We are assessing their suitability and effectiveness for augmenting prolonged care on the battlefield.”
USAMTEAC, aligned under the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, is the only independent operational test and evaluation agency of medical and medical-related materiel and information technology products in support of the Army and DoD acquisition process. Its leadership and test officers are Acquisition Corps members who are certified experts in managing and conducting test and evaluation for program managers and materiel developers – including USAMMDA.
“Teamwork is key to this process,” said Denson. “We are fortunate to have forged a strong partnership with USAMMDA.”
USAMMDA’s Medical Field Systems PMO was established earlier this year to streamline the internal processes of procuring and deploying field-worthy and cost-effective solutions to joint force medical providers, including the Soldiers with 36th MCAS and similar medical companies across the Army. Due to the array of possible locations of future conflicts – from the Artic regions found in Europe and Asia to the ocean expanses of the Indo-Pacific region – USAMMDA’s development teams continue to refine their focus to equip joint force medical providers for combat operations in austere and extreme environments.
Joint efforts like the Fort Liberty assessment of PCAD MES and the VSPR touchpoint are important to preparing the frontline medical providers for future deployments, and for ensuring they have the treatments and devices they will rely on when they get there, according to U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Renee Seymore, treatment platoon sergeant with 36th MCAS.
“These types of training events are a way that we test our abilities as both individuals and as a treatment team,” said Seymore. “We are all dependent on these field events to identify strong points and also areas where we can improve, and I am really proud to see us progressing, and of the Soldiers who bring their A game out here.”
The DoD continues to shape its efforts with an eye toward the strategic regions where future conflicts are likely to arise. Because of the dispersed geography of the Indo-Pacific region and the polar climates of Arctic across much of the Northern Hemisphere, the ability to treat and sustain life at and near the front lines is an imperative capability. Casualties may need to wait longer for medical evacuation to higher echelons of care, meaning life-prolonging care will be needed for longer periods of time. Both PCAD and VSPR may add critical minutes to the care continuum and enhance frontline providers’ ability to save lives and limit the effects of delayed emergency care, according to Seymore.
Devices and capabilities like PCAD MES and VSPR are designed for Role 2 and Role 3 echelons of care, or treatment facilities at the military brigade and division level. Prolonged treatment capabilities will be vital during possible future operations, and field assessments of developing capabilities help prove the validity of USAMMDA’s modernization efforts.
“Devices and capabilities like PCAD and VSPR enable us to give better and more comprehensive care at Role 2 during the critical minutes and hours when casualties are most vulnerable,” she said. “When we get patients, our job is to assess and triage each patient and provide the best care we can to prolong life and arrange for medical evacuation to higher echelons further from the front line. These tools and capabilities may give us an added edge and a little time cushion so we can stabilize our patients, keep them ventilated, and keep their vital systems going in preparation for evacuation to higher care, which may or may not be readily available in future operations and combat. The more we can do at Role 2, the better off patients are before they move to Role 3 and beyond, and the better overall outcome they will have to recover and return to the fight.”