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BHR Helps Certify Tripler Army Medical Center

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS080722-21
Release Date: 7/22/2008 4:59:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Jennifer Hudson, USS Bonhomme Richard Public Affairs

USS BONHOMME RICHARD, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Bonhomme Richard's (LHD 6)(BHR) medical crew worked in conjunction with the crew of USS O'Kane (DDG 77) for the first time during a U.S. 3rd Fleet mass casualty drill aboard BHR to help certify Tripler Army Medical Center in Oahu, Hawaii July 21.

More than 30 Sailors from BHR's Medical Department and embarked corpsmen tested their skills and capabilities. The drill simulated 75 personnel with injuries including broken bones, burns, compound fractures and sucking chest wounds.

"It is a requirement for every hospital to do a mass casualty exercise every year," said Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW/FMF) Brad Kowitz, head coordinator for the evolution.

"This is the first time we've done this on this scale using fleet assets and then transporting them to the hospital. This was a new way for us to test our system and see how well it works, and at the same time help Tripler become certified."

The mass casualty drill aboard BHR simulated 25 injuries sustained from a rigid-hull inflatable boat that overturned in the hangar bay. BHR Sailors were flown out to Tripler Army Medical Center via helicopter.

"I think this evolution went very well, everyone showed a lot of enthusiasm, which made the drill realistic for our motivated medical personnel," said Kowitz.

Fifty Sailors from O'Kane flew out to BHR's medical center with various injuries from a simulated explosion aboard the ship. They were flown to BHR and assessed by BHR's medical team prior to being flown out to Tripler Army Medical Center.

"We saw a variety of injuries, including patients [dead on arrival], post traumatic stress, some arriving in agony and others with severe burns," said Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW/FMF) Patrick Updegraff.

"The drill tested our [corpsmen's] skills set. All the corpsmen are specialized in a particular area of medicine, but during a mass casualty, everyone gets involved."

For Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Dustin Bullerdick, attached to 3rd Marine Regiment stationed out of Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps Base Hawaii, the learning environment aboard a ship is different from what they normally deal with out in the field.

"We do this on the Marine Corps side, but you are usually working by yourself whereas here, everyone is using and sharing their different knowledge skill-sets and working together as a team which is incredible," he said. "I'm just grateful to be a part of this evolution; it's a great learning experience."

Like most drills, according to Kowitz, there are lessons learned and there is always room for improvement.

"I'm very happy with the way the corpsmen performed," said Kowitz. "They received the training needed to handle such a situation, if it were to occur. Real life scenarios can be chaotic, so it is important to expect the unexpected and improve in areas that need improvement. I am sure that the corpsmen will be ready to respond at any given time."

BHR is participating in RIMPAC 2008. RIMPAC is the world's largest multinational exercise and is scheduled biennially by the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Participants include the United States, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, the Netherlands, Peru, Republic of Korea, Singapore and the United Kingdom.

For more news from USS Bonhomme Richard, visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd6/.



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