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NASSG Tests Medical Readiness During COMPTUEX

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS071210-17
Release Date: 12/10/2007 4:46:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mandy Hunsucker, Nassau Strike Group Public Affairs

USS NASSAU, At Sea (NNS) -- As the Nassau Strike Group continues its Composite Unit Training Exercise (COMPTUEX), the medical team from the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4) and personnel from Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 2 participated in mass casualty drills Dec. 5-6 to better prepare themselves for real-life situations.

COMPTUEX, a required exercise prior to deployment, is a realistic training environment that provides effective and intense training to ensure the NASSG is interoperable and ready for deployment on short notice. The training includes preparation for medical emergencies and any mass casualty situation that may arise at a moment's notice.

"Mass casualty is any event or situation in which severe personnel casualties occur, possibly exceeding the capability of the medical department," said Lt. Danielle Devereaux, general medical officer on board Nassau. "The event may be anything from an explosion or toxic exposure on a ship, to being attacked by the enemy and being transported back to a ship for further care. There is no specific number that defines a mass casualty; it's based on the number of patients, types of injury and the medical team's capabilities."

The first drill had everything from a dislocated hip due to a hard parachute landing, an amputated hand and an abdominal evisceration – a traumatic opening of the abdomen allowing the intestines to be exposed. The second drill consisted of five Marines, each with several gun shot wounds.

"The biggest factor to overcome in a mass casualty is the shock of seeing torn bleeding bodies and possibly death," said Lt. Cmdr. Johnny Rodgers, a certified peri-operative nurse with FST-2 who experienced a mass casualty situation while serving in Iraq in 2003. "It takes a mind that can block out the noise from all the wounded and think clearly, so that you can focus on the care you're providing in the moment."

Nassau's Medical Department includes two physicians, one independent duty corpsman, multiple specialized corpsmen and multiple junior corpsmen. The FST-2 team brings two family practitioners, one surgeon, a nurse anesthetist, an intensive care unit nurse and an operating room nurse. The ship has four battle dressing stations that function as triage areas and are stocked with basic medical supplies. It has four operating rooms, an intensive care unit that can house up to 14 patients and a general ward with 42 beds.

"Every drill we do is taken as if it is the real thing; it's very serious and important," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class (FMF) Ricardo Guzman, leading petty officer of the intensive care unit for FST-2. "Problems that can be encountered are miscommunication, lack of personnel and equipment malfunctions. These drills help us identify these problems and correct them."

The NASSG is made up of amphibious assault ship Nassau; amphibious transport dock ship USS Nashville (LPD 13); amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48); guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58); guided-missile destroyers USS Ross (DDG 71) and USS Bulkeley (DDG 84); the attack submarine USS Albany (SSN 753); and a Marine Landing Force from the 24 MEU.

Participating as a simulated coalition partner is USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), and participating as simulated opposition forces are guided-missile destroyer USS Farragut (DDG 99); and guided-missile frigates USS Klakring (FFG 42), USS Nicholas (FFG 47) and USS Hawes (FFG 53).

Currently preparing for its 2008 deployment, the NASSG is made up of more than 5,000 Sailors and Marines, and projects sea power ashore by maintaining the capability of landing amphibious forces by helicopters, amphibious track vehicles, air cushion landing craft, and assault craft whenever and wherever the need arises.

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