Shock trauma platoon tracks patients through desert dust
By Cpl. Codey Underwood
| U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve | June 16, 2014
MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, California --
Corpsmen and Marines with the Shock Trauma Platoon, 4th Medical Battalion honed their medical skills and procedures through realistic casualty scenarios during ITX 4-14 here, June 9, 2014.
Whether conducting a training exercise or deployed to a combat zone, the Marine Corps relies on cohesive, well-oiled, and responsive medical care. The STP is just that. They are the first line to receive casualties who are evacuated to an aid station - which can be a chaotic and stressful environment.
The STP is a collection of Marines and corpsmen working together to create and maintain a first-line medical staff. The STP houses everything a medical staff would need in combat operations, a training environment, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations. They are self-sustaining, STP supplies their own electrical power, communication, surgeons and transportation which enables them to improve their capabilities when working with a Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
“The Shock Trauma Platoon is self-sustainable for more than two weeks without any outside help,” said Navy Cmdr. Michael Thornton, the MAGTF surgeon for ITX 4-14. “We utilize all of the needed assets for a MAGTF and that is what makes us unique.”
The purpose of the training was to practice the corpsmen’s ability to track patients as they move through the medical levels and stations.
When a casualty occurs, the Marine goes through a series of medical aid levels. The first is self-aid. Immediately after sustaining an injury, the Marine must give himself basic medical aid, if possible. The next step is buddy aid. Here, a fellow Marine would move to the casualty’s position and assist with medical attention. Marines are not trained professionals but do have basic training on how to assess the casualties.
Once the corpsman makes it to the casualty, the patient then continues on to corpsman care. The corpsman will use field medical equipment to treat the casualty to his or her best ability. If the wound is critical, or the casualty can no longer continue to fight or train with the injury, the patient is moved to the casualty collection point. Here a group of corpsmen monitor the casualty until transportation is provided. This is all referred to as level-one medical care.
Once the casualty reaches the STP or the Forward Resuscitative Surgical Suite, the casualty then enters level-two medical care. STP’s job is to receive all the casualties and evaluate their injuries for the FRSS. They are the deciding factor on whether the patient needs to move to further medical care or not.
“As the Shock Trauma Platoon, we tag the Marines with what and how serious their symptoms are so we can track them throughout the process,” said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kenneth Justice. “We also have to monitor their temperature, vitals and anything else a medical team would need to do, depending on their symptoms.”
The hospital corpsmen are not only conducting this training through realistic scenarios, but are also conducting this training deep in the austere desert. The combat center offers a training environment that stretches across more than 100 square miles of the Mojave Desert. This is an unforgiving environment. The corpsmen must not only monitor patients, but also their own well-being so they can adequately fulfill their responsibilities.
“Switching our training to the desert environment alters the training in many ways,” said Kenneth. “It creates a harder environment to work in. At the same time, being out here is practical because this is where the combat deployments go, in the desert.”
As the STP progresses through the training, it is imperative that they operate as a cohesive unit and increase their efficiency. With its ability to rapidly treat patients, the STP is an invaluable asset to the MAGTF.