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Tarawa Sailors Conduct Mass Casualty Exercise

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070502-04
Release Date: 5/2/2007 10:20:00 AM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Karalie Pallotta, USS Tarawa Public Affairs

USS TARAWA, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa (LHA 1) treated severe burns, fractured limbs and amputations as part of a mass casualty scenario played out on their hangar deck April 23.

The simulated injuries were all the result of a rack supporting spare helicopter blades collapsing and injuring six Sailors simultaneously. Sailors in the vicinity responded quickly to their downed shipmates, treating the casualties as if they were real.

“We have a lot of new personnel on board right now and many of our stretcher bearers have never been in a mass casualty before,” said Lt. Loren Standley, medical admin officer. “I think people see now that if we have a mass casualty, there’s more of an emphasis on everyone helping out with the drill, not just one or two persons, not just the people identified as stretcher bearers.”

“The drill was intended to be as realistic as possible,” Standley added. “The simulated rudder steering checks on rough seas is a maneuver that can cause equipment not properly secured to come loose and fall, causing serious injuries. Realistic or not, it was meant to be a learning experience.”

“We learned new things,” said Corpsman 3rd Class Kyle McNamara. “We learned what not to do and what to do. These drills are a way to get ready in case the real thing ever happens.”

An important emphasis was put on informing Sailors that it’s everybody’s responsibility to respond if a casualty happens around them.

“If you hear a mass casualty get called away in your area and you see casualties, you need to stop what you’re doing and become a first aid responder,” said Standley.

Even though the training was mainly for stretcher bearers and corpsmen, every Sailor who participated gained a little more experience.

“On a ship, everybody’s a responder,” emphasized Standley. “Everybody’s a stretcher bearer. Everybody helps.”

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