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Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton

"The West Coast's Premier Expeditionary Training Base"

Devil Docs learn life-saving contingency for casualties

By Lance Cpl. Derrick K. Irions | | August 9, 2012

 In the aftermath of an unexpected disaster, mass casualties are a common occurrence for first responders.

A Pre-deployment Mass Casualty Care Course was held at the Charlie Company Warehouse and Camp Pendleton’s Tango Training Area, to ensure medical operational forces maintain clinical sustainment and combat readiness.

"I can tell you this much, there hasn't ever been any training like this before," said Cmdr. Tuan Hoang, a general surgeon with 1st Marine Logistics Group, 1st Medical Battalion.

The course, developed to reflect the most common mass casualty situations seen in recent combat environments, was the first time surgical teams from Charlie Surgical Company, 1st Med Bn. had a chance to work together.

"A lot of the team's cohesion comes from training like this," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Ryan C. Poper, a surgical technologist attached to Charlie Surgical Co. 1st Med. Bn., 1st MLG.

During the simulation, units experienced six casualties from a motor vehicle accident. Upon arrival, patients were evaluated and treated based on the severity of their injuries.

One patient, after receiving an exploratory laparotomy, was discovered to have internal bleeding from a liver laceration, a life threatening injury, said Cmdr. Bill Haggerson, a general surgeon with 1st Med Bn.

Approximately 60 corpsmen from Charlie Company participated in the exercise in preparation of their upcoming deployment, said Hoang.

"What this training is attempting to do is introduce medical issues, treatment plans and medical knowledge that is specific to the theater that they will be going to," said Cmdr. Gerald Platt, an emergency physician attached to the Naval Medical Center San Diego.

The training began, Aug. 1, with lectures covering subjects like massive transfusion protocols, operational ultrasounds and the trauma triad of death; That information was applied a week later during the mass casualty simulation, Aug. 8.

With 60 percent of the participating corpsmen being introduced to the Marine Corps side of medicine for the first time and the various dynamics of being on a deployment, there are a lot of stressful and confusing issues to be addressed before a team works a full capacity, said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Beale, a critical care nurse and company commander with Alpha Surgical Company, 1st Med Bn.

"You really don't want those first ten patients to be practice," said Platt. "If we can simulate that practice here, before they deploy, and get that team working efficiently then those first ten patients really benefit."