Operational Hospital Support Unit Bremerton trains with Air Force
By Douglas Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton
/ Published August 20, 2019
TACOMA, Wash. -- Activated Reserve Sailors assigned to Operational Health Support Unit (OHSU) Bremerton were joined by their Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) counterpart for joint exercise Tropic Halo alongside U.S. Air Force 446th Aeromedical Staging Squadron (ASTS) members at Joint Base Lewis McCord in Tacoma, Wash., Aug. 5-15, 2019.
Tropic Halo allowed OHSU Bremerton to continue its efforts to align its mission with the Navy’s Surgeon General strategic objectives of enhancing readiness and partnerships. This joint medical readiness training exercise utilized field and didactic training to increase tactical combat casualty care (TCCC) and trauma nurse core course (TNCC) readiness rates, promote intra-service cohesion with collaborative training in a joint service environment, and leverage Navy and Air Force command assets to generate better training opportunities.
The sprawling acreage of JBLM was ideal to hold the exercise to support the joint military medicine collaboration and operational readiness training in a wartime setting.
“We are all one team regardless of the branch,” said Chief Hospital Corpsman Sammy Willis, an instructor assigned to Navy Reserve Navy Medicine Education and Training Command. “We all learn from each other. The Air Force has a certain mission as far as medical goes and a certain mindset. The Navy as well. To mesh the two, we learn a lot from each other.”
There were approximately 45 Navy and 80 Air Force Reservist along with eight active duty staff from Naval Hospital Bremerton, and several Air Force active duty personnel.
The training was divided into two five-day training periods. Each week consisted of Trauma TNCC and TCCC, along with Advanced Burn Life Support formal instruction for five days. Air Force personnel also gained additional training with Simulation Lab and patient movement utilizing specialized mannequins designed for such scenarios.
“This is a whole new aspect of care we are not really used to. We were really more focused on a hospital setting,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Connor Bitterman, assigned to 446th ASTS. “Coming out here to the field, dealing with all this trauma care – high stress, high intensity – it gets your heartrate up and you are dealing with really good hands-on patient care.“
Lt. Steffany Mattson, NHB Post Anesthesia Care Unit registered nurse, echoed the importance of such exercises for medical professionals stationed at a hospital and training in a joint environment.
“TNCC, especially at somewhere like NHB where we don't normally experience trauma situations, is super important because it teaches confidence and the importance of keeping up with evidence based practices,” said Mattson. “I did notice that although there were different services in the class we all had the same common goal which was to learn as much as we could and take that information back to our respective jobs. It was refreshing to work with those outside of the Navy and still see like minds and goals.”
According to the TNCC curriculum, the course focused on providing registered nurses with evidence-based core knowledge, assessments, and psychomotor skills involved in the triage and management of injured patients. It reinforces a systematic and standardized approach to trauma nursing care and skills using an integrated approach to trauma teamwork, communication and collaboration.
With Navy Medicine shifting focus to operational readiness, the training received during Tropic Halo allowed personnel – especially Navy Nurse Corps officers and Hospital Corps Sailors – to hone their skills treating trauma casualties in a field environment.
“Readiness is more important in today’s world then it has ever been,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jeff Bruderer, assigned to OHSU Bremerton and senior enlisted leader/TCCC instructor for the exercise. “With the need to be ready to deploy at a moment’s notice, this training being given prepares Sailors and Airmen to treat life threatening injuries at the point of impact and ongoing patient care at hospitals. With the ever changing threat of injuries to not only military members but also civilian casualties that this country is facing, we are training members to save lives and be prepared for military and civilian readiness.”
NHB supports more than 60,000 military families in West Puget Sound, shaping military medicine through training, mentoring and research to ensure a ready medical force and operationally ready force.
OHSU Bremerton’s mission is to ensure all Sailors can rapidly respond to the needs of Naval Hospital Bremerton, Navy Medicine and the nation by keeping themselves and those assigned in a constant state of readiness; professionally, physically and mentally. OHSU Bremerton ensures force health protection of all Sailors by assisting Navy Operational Support Centers throughout three regions – Northwest, Midwest and Southwest - by completion of physical health assessment’s and dental exams. OHSU detachments can be found in Anchorage, Alaska; Whidbey, Kitsap, Spokane and Everett, Wash.; Portland and Springfield, Ore.; Boise, Idaho; Helena and Billings, Mont.; Cheyenne, Wyo., Fargo, N.D. and Sioux Falls, S.D.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Denver and Fort Carson, Colo.