MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
When a service member suffers critical wounds in combat, a group of Navy doctors, nurses and corpsmen which makes up a “Shock Trauma Platoon” can provide life-saving care during the crucial ‘golden hour.’
A Shock Trauma Platoon is a “mobile emergency room” that can be quickly set up in austere environments to provide medical care to critically-injured patients within one hour.
Navy medical personnel will demonstrate these capabilities during San Francisco Fleet Week Oct. 6-11. A demonstration will be set up on Marina Green, where the public will see the equipment and talk to several service members.
An STP is composed of a small complex of tents used as a field hospital, complete with medical equipment and personnel.
“The big hospitals are few and far between in Afghanistan,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Kirk R. Atkinson, instructor, Advisory Training Group, 1st Medical Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 15, 1st Marine Logistics Group. “The [areas of operation] are getting bigger, and the mobility of STPs means we can give care in any area experiencing combat.”
When a coalition service member gets injured on the battlefield, the first level of care is the corpsman, who is usually on the scene, but without larger medical equipment, the care he provides can sometimes be only enough to keep his patient alive just a little while longer. Once the causality is evacuated, he is taken to an STP to be stabilized.
In the event of a natural disaster, like an earthquake, an STP could quickly mobilize from Camp Pendleton to provide life-saving assistance to stranded victims in areas that may not be reachable by road.
According to Navy Lt. Kelly A. Trout, officer in charge, ATG, 1st Medical Bn., a STP can begin operating on a patient almost immediately after arriving on a forward operating base, so the sailors train regularly to prepare themselves for deployment.
“It’s complex in that there’s a lot of moving parts,” said Trout, 36, from Central Point, Ore. “However, doctrine says you can unload everything, set up tents and treat your first patient within one hour.”
Within one hour, the sailors have set up their tents, generators, and all the tools used in an emergency room. Once set up, the corpsmen and doctors are ready to begin saving lives.
“You could be working on something like a twisted ankle one minute,” said Atkinson, 25, from Aubrey, Texas, “to a quadruple amputee you’re fighting to keep alive the next.”