USS Princeton Conducts Mass Casualty Drill
From By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Logan C. Kellums, CSG-11 Public Affairs
21 August 2020
Sailors assigned to the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser conduct a mass casualty drill.
The Medical Training Team (MTT) aboard USS Princeton (CG 59) recently conducted a mass casualty training drill, testing the crew's ability to respond to an emergency medical situation.
"A mass casualty is a dynamic event that requires multiple lines of effort to coordinate an effective response in providing medical care while fighting the ship," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Richard Moreno, from Delano, Calif., Princeton's independent duty corpsman who led the drill aboard the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser Aug. 16.
In the midst of all the casualties is the triage officer, who is responsible for assessing injuries and determining who gets treated immediately and who can wait. Ensign William Stimson, from Boyertown, Pa., relies on his past training to effectively evaluate casualties as Princeton's triage officer.
"I have been through the combat lifesaver course and have done mass casualty drills during my time with the Seabees," said Stimson, whose primary role on the ship is serving as the Combat Information Center officer. "These drills are the most important to me. Saving the ship is very important to maintaining the ability to stay in the fight, but saving lives is my number one priority."
The responsibility of saving lives during a mass casualty cannot rest solely on the shoulders of the medical staff, as the three hospital corpsmen on board could be overwhelmed by the crew of several hundred experiencing a large number of injuries. It is up to every Sailor on board to be able to respond to an emergency.
"It is important that every Sailor is trained in basic first aid because it increases warfighting readiness," stressed Moreno. "Medical emergencies can happen anywhere or anytime so we must ensure we stay ready!"
Fire Controlman 1st Class Errol Maynard, from London, Ohio, was a first responder in the drill. He credits past training in basic first aid with his ability to treat casualties in a moment's notice in the drill, which he described as interactive.
"This was definitely the most realistic medical drill I have been a part of because the training team made sure an actual scene was set, really immersing the responders in to the scenario," said Maynard. "The few medical drills I have been a part of, the scene has always been heavily simulated; meaning I would have to imagine that someone's leg was cut or someone was in pain. In this scenario, they had props to make everything more realistic, and the 'injured' Sailors acted out the pain."
The drill took into account that during a real-life mass casualty, the ship may also be in general quarters or fighting another casualty, such as a fire or flooding. This meant the crew needed to balance treating personnel casualties and damage control efforts. This added another layer of complexity to the drill.
"The drills are crucial for us to showcase our ability to integrate with damage control efforts and provide care for injured personnel," Stimson said. "Injuries can come from an initial attack on our ship as well as from Sailors conducting damage control efforts."
Examples of the relationship between damage control and medical response efforts can be found in the two collisions of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG 56).
"We have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of both of these events," said Moreno. "It was apparent that the medical departments did an incredible job training their crews to be able to respond to these events and it is something I use to drive training on board."
Princeton is part of Nimitz Carrier Strike Group and is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the Western Indian Ocean and three critical chokepoints to the free flow of global commerce.
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