JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas – Fleet Surgical Teams Two and Four made recent medical history, becoming the Navy’s first FSTs to complete the Army’s rigorous Strategic Trauma Readiness Center of San Antonio’s (STaRC) trauma readiness training course.
Funded by Commander, Surface Forces Atlantic, members from the two Navy surgical teams attended the three-week Army-led training at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston.
The course, based on Army curriculum for their forward resuscitative surgical teams, was adapted for the Navy FSTs with a focus on the types of realistic, iterative, and stressful scenarios necessary to build Role II trauma readiness within austere shipboard environments.
“We were able to push the Navy FSTs to their limits so they can handle any challenges they may encounter on the ship” said Army Col. Tyson Becker, STaRC Director.
The program consisted of three distinct phases – didactic hands-on training, shipboard simulated field exercises, and Level I trauma with real patients at Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC), the only Level I Trauma Center within the DoD.
Becker said the services use of different terminology and size and scope of a Navy Fleet Surgical Team compared to that of an Army Forward Resuscitative Surgical Team provided an opportunity to learn from each other in a joint environment.
Still, he concluded that the bottom line remained familiar for all participants.
“It was relatively easy to adapt to the Navy Team as the principles of saving lives and providing Role II surgical care is the same regardless of service,” Becker added.
With STaRC’s mission to help surgical teams sustain the life-saving surgical skills needed to provide Role II care in often hectic environments, the FSTs were challenged with multiple scenarios to include ship-to-shore and en-route care simulations. These conditions demanded damage control resuscitative care and surgery in stressful environments all while developing individual and team roles that emphasized effective communication
“The STaRC training provided necessary and needed training to ensure FST competency and proficiency,” said Capt. Shauna O’Sullivan, FST-Two Officer in Charge and course attendee.
“The hands-on and repetitive training approach utilizing different patient models with the pinnacle of training occurring on live patients in an actual trauma center as a team – this is what builds the FST currency and confidence,” said O’Sullivan.
Chief Hospital Corpsman Falicha Garret of FST Four said the three weeks of training greatly exceeded her expectations. A surgical technician for 13 years who had never worked in an actual trauma bay nor assisted patients outside of the operating room, said she took home unparalleled knowledge and experience from her time at Brooke and other training elements.
“The knowledge, hands-on, and experience I gained at STaRC is far superior than any other medical and pre-deployment training I had the privilege to attend,” Garret said.
“After participating in STaRC with our team, I now know the capabilities of my teammates in actual life-and-death situations,” said Lt. Cmdr. Stacy Coulthard, a general surgeon with FST Two. “My team does not just have a theoretical knowledge of how to assess, care for, and treat traumatic injuries, they have now actually done so multiple times with living patients.”