The difference between life and death for a severely wounded individual depends on how long it takes to get them medical care. Sailors here understand the need for urgency and are using a system to save time and lives.
A specialized medical team for Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Africa Logistics Combat Element is utilizing a system to dramatically decrease the amount of time it takes to get a person from the point of injury to a medical professional.
“Where we are stationed here, we can respond to Europe, we can respond to Africa,” said Navy Cmdr. Samantha Grillo, the officer in charge of the Forward Resuscitative Surgical System-Shock Trauma Platoon and an orthopedic surgeon. “We can receive casualties here from either location, but at the same time we can be on an aircraft, packed and ready to go within an hour to either of those directions.”
The Forward Resuscitative Surgical System-Shock Trauma Platoon works out of a small bay directly on the flight line at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy. In a job that counts minutes as precious, the location and specialties of the medical team can save hours for a patient with heavy wounds. The FRSS-STP touts the mobility and speed of their emergency and operating rooms, which are strategically situated so casualties can be brought from a plane directly into surgery if necessary.
“Each of the services has their version of a smaller or rapidly deployable unit,” said Grillo. “For us, with an orthopedic surgeon, a general surgeon and an emergency room physician, we have a greater capability of providing all types of care on or near the battlefield.”
Some of the FRSS-STP capabilities include: basic trauma resuscitation with supplementation of fluids and blood products, basic general surgeries to stop internal bleeding and stabilizing fractures to prevent further injuries to a patient.
The mission of the FRSS-STP is to sustain life and limb, maintain a fighting force as a theater asset and respond to all medical calls. The accomplishment of this mission is made possible because of the vast array of experience within the trauma team.
“The FRSS is a highly mobile, very specialized system for responding to trauma,” said Grillo. “It allows us to respond to injuries nearly immediately after they are sustained, so the patient can get care in that initial time period where life-saving is critical.”