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A surgical table sits prepared in the Forward Resuscitative Surgical Suite aboard Forward Operating Base Delaram II, Afghanistan, Oct. 23. The FRSS is located adjacent to the Shock Trauma Platoon facility and treats patients in need of emergency surgery before they can be transported to a higher echelon of care. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Katherine M. Solano)

Photo by Cpl. Katherine M. Solano

Winning hearts and minds: Shock Trauma Platoon brings relief, relationships to Afghan locals

28 Oct 2011 | Cpl. Katherine M. Solano

There is a battle of sorts being won in southern Helmand province. The Marines and sailors at Forward Operating Base Delaram II, and specifically the Shock Trauma Platoon there, take pride in ‘winning’ the hearts and minds of locals.

The STP is comprised of enlisted and commissioned sailors ranging from corpsmen to private practice family doctors, from nurses to surgeons. As part of Bravo Surgical Company, Marine Air-Ground Task Force Support Battalion 11.2, 2nd Marine Logistics Group (Forward), it is the primary duty of the medical personnel based here to support the Marines with Regimental Combat Team 8.

However, since the area surrounding the FOB is relatively peaceful, according to those working at the STP, they are afforded a unique opportunity, a fact for which they are very thankful. While the sister STP at FOB Edinburgh treats mainly battle-injured servicemembers, the patients of Delaram’s STP are predominately Afghan National Army soldiers, Afghan Uniformed Policemen and locals, including multiple children.

Positive, growing relationships have resulted with locals due to the level and caliber of care the STP continuously provides. They treat injuries ranging from cuts and scrapes, to gunshot wounds and injuries from improvised explosive device explosions.

“They don’t really have a healthcare system, at least not in this part of the country,” said Navy Lt. Scott LaPanne, a nurse with the STP. “For anything drastic, they can’t go to their field doctor, so they come here.

“I think that the military here has shown a very good presence and I believe that the local nationals here like us more than they hate us. So we don’t get to see some of the bad stuff happening that there is in the other areas of the country. We are more into winning the hearts and minds of the local nationals,” he said.

When asked, several of the corpsmen who work with LaPanne agreed when he said that their job at the STP is both rewarding and fulfilling.

“We get to help people get medical care and not always just because of the war,” LaPanne concluded.


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