MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The Marines and sailors wait patiently as they hear footsteps approaching their tent. The first three causalities were escorted in and immediately cared for. The severities of the injuries are different but the service members had a mission: to keep their patients alive. The introduction of their first severely injured patient marked the beginning of Final Exercise I.
Marines and sailors with Shock Trauma Platoon, Combat Logistics Battalion 15, 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, conducted FINEX I, which is a small component of Weapons and Tactics Instructor’s Course, at Sandy Hill, Oct. 14, 2014. The mission of the STP was to provide first aid and resuscitation to mock causalities.
“This particular unit is a light version of what a regular STP is,” said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Dimmer, surgeon, STP, CLB-15, 15th MEU. “We are trying to show that we can be portable and that we can support an operation in a very short amount of time. We want to keep working to scale down our numbers as much as possible so that we can be more portable.”
A standard STP is made up of two emergency room doctors, trauma nurses, and multiple specialty-trained corpsmen. The Marines and sailors conducted FINEX I with approximately half of the personnel and equipment typically used in a standard STP.
“We want to try and break out into two STPs and take half the equipment,” said Lt. Cmdr. James Cortes, officer in charge, STP, CLB-15, 15th MEU. “By doing so, it will enable us to split up into two different areas of operation and cover more ground.”
By creating two teams rather than one, it makes the STP more portable and allows the medical personnel to arrive faster. If the medical personnel arrive quicker, a patient’s survivability can increase substantially.
“We are the next step after they receive battlefield care,” Dimmer said. “We start the resuscitation process. Our goal is to have the patient stabilized enough to transfer over to a higher echelon of care or to a Forward Resuscitation Surgical Suite. The quicker you can get that patient to resuscitation, the more likely for survival and that is what we are training for out here.”
Once the Marines and sailors finished setting up the gear, they began receiving mock causalities. The patients had different degrees of injuries challenging the medical personnel to assess patients, take care of them and then, if needed, send them off to a higher level of care.
“The goal is to have us close to the battlefield,” Dimmer said. “We would be able to begin resuscitation almost right away. The resuscitation process would be taking place in route to the surgeon. This would be cutting even more time off of the whole process.”
Depending on the degree of the injury, the STP personnel treated the causality on scene or escorted them to their tent to perform recitation. The causality was then taken back to the aircraft to be medically evacuated.
The service members are scheduled to also participate in FINEX II later this week.
“This training is very important to us,” Dimmer said. “We want to make a difference. Everyone has loved ones back home and we want to make sure they all get back to them.”