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Fleet Surgical Team 6 Feels at Home on Board Kearsarge

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS100428-03

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) John Osborne, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs

USS KEARSARGE At Sea (NNS) -- The Medical Department on board the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) received a significant upgrade when Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 6 out of Norfolk, Va., embarked April 22.

The FST, along with several other embarked units, is participating in Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON)-Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) Integrated Training (PMINT) through May 6.

Embarking on a new ship is nothing new to the men and women of FST 6. They returned from a seven-month deployment with USS Bataan (LHD 5) in December, where they made a valuable contribution and in mid-January began making preparations to ride Kearsarge to Haiti if the call came.

"It is difficult spending so much time away from home," said Cmdr. Tracy Thompson, group surgeon and officer in charge of FST 6. "We come to a fleet surgical team on a two-year tour and it is not uncommon to spend 18 of those 24 months deployed. We often have to be ready to deploy within 96 hours of getting the call, and we are expected to be ready to contribute as soon as we step on board. Kearsarge's Medical Department has been very accommodating and they have helped in any way they can. It definitely makes the integration easier when you are made to feel so welcome."

Thompson and her FST of 16 Sailors bring several capabilities and an array of talent to Kearsarge. Thompson explained that the general idea of carrying a FST is to bring on specialists who are not otherwise represented. The talent pool that Thompson leads includes a medical regulating and coordinating officer, senior enlisted leader, general surgeon, family practice physician, anesthesia provider, critical care nurse, operating room nurse, two surgical technicians, two laboratory technicians, one respiratory technician, two general corpsman, and one radiology technician.

All of these skill sets are necessary because the primary function of the FST is to save lives in the operating room during a mass casualty, something Thompson and her crew understand requires the participation of all medical personnel.

"I expect everyone to utilize their skill sets to benefit the amphibious readiness group," she said. "Everyone has a role to play and we have to recognize the crucial role of the ship's company during a mass casualty. It's critical that we all work together."

Chief Hospital Corpsman and FST Senior Enlisted Leader Chris Cwiklinski said cooperation among both medical teams is key.

"Kearsarge brings a lot of experience and motivation to the job, but most importantly, they want to be here, and they want to work with us. It has been a very smooth transition," he said.

Kearsarge's senior enlisted medical member, Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Robert Loomis, said he has been impressed with the professionalism of FST 6 and sees a great working relationship developing.

"They have been impressive with how quickly they have settled in here and contributed to the daily taskings," said Loomis. "It is always an anxious time when a new unit comes into your department, but FST 6 understands that only through cohesiveness can we accomplish the mission and we are happy to have such a great team on board."

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Samuel Sobrino, a surgical technologist with FST 6, said being associated with Kearsarge's Medical Department is one of the highlights of his time with the team.

"Anything we have needed, they have given us," Sobrino said. "They have made us feel welcome, and this is the best ship I have been on."

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