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News | May 17, 2024

Military Medical Personnel Train for Combat Situations in Capstone Event

As military medical personnel assigned to the Womack Army Medical Center (WAMC) complete their residencies and prepare to assume their first duty station, they must possess a specific set of skills to excel in their roles. Twenty-seven trainees participated in a five-day capstone event, held at the Taylor Sandri Medical Training Center, Fort Liberty, North Carolina May 6 to 10, designed to bridge this critical training gap, providing medical personnel with the necessary skills and expertise to save lives in combat situations.

The event aimed to prepare residents for military medical requirements, focusing on combat care and trauma management. The mass casualty exercise held on day five consisted of 10 stations, each simulating a different combat scenario. Residents were divided into small teams to rotate through the various stations and gain hands-on experience in managing trauma patients in a deployed environment.

“It’s part of the plan to make sure that our Graduate Medical Education is preparing our graduates to do what is expected of them,” said Lt. Col. Wendra Galfand, director of Medical Education and Research at WAMC. “All the trauma casualties at this exercise exhibit the different kinds of wounds and injury patterns that they have been trained to treat.”

The stations included triage, managing behavioral health concerns, casualty scenarios and military working dog care. Each scenario was practiced under the supervision of senior medical personnel and a medical simulation operator.

“As they are finishing up with their baseline medical training, they need to learn to work outside of the hospital where they are actually working with their own knowledge,” said Col. John Osborn, Special Warfare Medical Group. “Here, doing it now, they have senior people like me and others that can give guidance, feedback, and reassurance that they are going in the right direction.”

Major Andrew Jenzer, program director, Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency WAMC, highlighted the significance of head and neck trauma care in combat situations.
“With the evolution of our body armor and helmets about fifty percent of injuries that people sustain are now in the face,” said Jenzer. “Getting used to dealing with large injuries in the face and neck and particularly how we manage those situations are a critical part of what any medical provider who's exposed to a wartime environment has to deal with.”

Clinical Psychologist, Maj. Melissa Finley, explained the role of combat operational stress control in supporting service members. She emphasized the importance of equipping medical personnel with skills to manage behavioral health casualties.
“Essentially it is meeting Service Members where they're at, identifying, those that have been negatively impacted by either operational stressors, or combat stressors, and facilitating some simple interventions to hopefully help return them to duty and get them back in the fight,” said Finley.
Capt. Mark Kobialka, Interservice Physician Assistant Program student, said, this training equipped them with the tools to handle such situations, teaching them techniques like breathing exercises, grounding methods, and cognitive assessments to calm individuals and assess their mental state. These skills enable them to provide comfort, safety, and appropriate care, helping Soldiers recover and feel secure.

However, their care did not stop there as they got to experience providing care for military working dogs under the supervision of veterinarian, Capt. John Hutchinson. An important part of their training according to Col. Tyler Harris, Department of Clinical Investigation chief and officer in charge of the event who mentioned that his first casualty during a deployment was a military working dog.

The Capstone event aimed to bridge the gap between medical training and real-world combat scenarios. By providing a comprehensive and immersive training experience, the program prepared military medical personnel to handle complex trauma cases and save lives in combat situations.
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