Corpsmen work to keep blood flowing
By 1st Lt. Nicole Yuhas
| II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) | February 23, 2013
CAMP LEATHERNECK, Afghanistan --
Two minutes. This is the time it can take for a person to bleed out after suffering an arterial wound.
Even if one is able to temporarily stop the bleeding through the effective use of a tourniquet, it is still essential to ensure the blood lost is replaced as soon as possible in order to prevent failure of vital organs or brain damage.
At the Role II medical facility aboard Forward Operating Base Shukvani, U.S. Navy personnel are responsible for round-the-clock trauma care to ensure troops operating in northern Helmand Province get the appropriate treatment.
The Role II medical facility is equipped with a Shock Trauma Platoon (STP) and Forward Resuscitative Surgical Systems. The facility is manned by corpsmen and physicians from Surgical Platoon, General Support Combat Logistics Company, Combat Logistics Regiment 2.
According to Navy Lt. Katrina Destree, the necessity to have emergency resuscitation care readily available is what drives the establishment of Role II medical facilities throughout Afghanistan.
“The purpose has to do with the ‘Golden Hour’,” said Destree, the regimental surgeon for CLR-2. “No matter where someone gets injured (within the area of operations), we want to get them to a Role II medical facility within an hour.”
Processing a patient, conducting rapid blood-transfusion
When a patient first arrives to the facility, a team of corpsmen will perform an initial assessment to identify any life threatening injuries. In a combat environment, these often include wounds caused by improvised explosive devices and gun shots – resulting in excessive blood loss.
Seamen Victor Gonzalez, a hospitalman who works in the STP, will immediately begin supplying the patient with universal blood. This will begin replenishing the blood lost while allowing time for the lab to conduct a blood test to confirm the patient’s actual type.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Keron Liverpool, a surgical laboratory technician with Surgical Platoon, is responsible for confirming the patient’s blood type.
“They bring the blood sample to me, and I type it using the blood-typing cards,” explained Liverpool. “The process takes roughly a minute.”
Liverpool explained that after receiving the results, he will draw the requested number of units of confirmed-type blood and thawed fresh frozen plasma, and deliver them to Gonzalez in the STP.
Upon receipt, Gonzalez will switch from supplying universal blood and begin the rapid blood transfusion process with the patient’s type-specific blood.
“I’m on the monitor side, which is where we have the (rapid infuser),” explained Gonzalez. “My responsibility with the (rapid infuser) is to transfuse equal units of packed red blood cells and fresh frozen plasma.”
Gonzalez tracks how much blood and plasma have been transfused and will remain bed-side until the patient is stabilized and ready to move to higher level care.
Destree explained that while Role II facilities do have the capabilities to hold patients, their main goal as a first-response emergency medical facility is to triage, treat and stabilize in order to then transport the patient by aircraft to a Role III medical facility, which is able to provide the full-range of emergency medical care.
“Essentially, (the personnel at the Role II) do whatever needs to be done right then and there to save lives,” concluded Destree.