JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas —
The new Strategic Trauma Readiness Center of San Antonio, or STaRC, completed its first trauma readiness training for the 555th Forward Surgical Team June 6.
The intense three-week program consisted of a combination of didactic and hands-on trauma events designed to test individual skills and team performance.
“We have all of the resources in one place to do everything that a deploying trauma team needs before they deploy,” said Army Col. (Dr.) Tyson Becker, Brooke Army Medical Center STaRC director.
What makes STaRC truly unique is its comprehensive assessment plan, which standardizes the implementation of various tools to measure individual clinical competency and team proficiency.
STaRC is also the first to develop a phased curriculum based on the Department of Defense Trauma Registry caseload and performance data and provides realistic training in an austere environment at Joint Base San Antonio-Camp Bullis. Additionally, the program can also be adapted to meet the needs of a variety of surgical teams.
“We stretched the 555th FST during the training and pushed them to their limit, so when they deploy downrange, they are ready to handle any challenge they encounter,” Becker said. “Our comprehensive program included multiple opportunities for hands-on care and in the end, the team performed thousands of individual skills they need while deployed. The team had opportunities in the field as well as in a Level 1 Trauma Center.”
The program leverages expertise and capabilities across multiple healthcare disciplines at BAMC, the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, the U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, the Joint Trauma System and the Air Force’s 59th Medical Wing.
“In order to maximize the buy-in and the training opportunity these Soldiers have prior to deploying, we employ several different modalities to include mannequins, live Soldier role players, and high fidelity devices such as our surgical cut suits,” explained Russell Moore, MEDCoE program manager.
“It’s very important that we present these teams with as realistic of a training scenario as possible, to encourage them to give everything they have and to test their skills in a realistic manner so the subject matter experts who are involved can also evaluate them accurately,” Moore said.
The 555th FST also received training on how to treat military working dogs in the field because there is a limited number of veterinarians downrange.
“We really rely on them to treat military working dogs that are injured, because we might not always be in the right location at the right time to help those dogs,” said Army Maj. Hailey Harroun-White, MEDCoE division of veterinary science instructor.
Overall, the feedback from this inaugural training was very positive.
“This training was well put together, very organized and very comprehensive,” said Army Maj. Ishmael Flecha, a physician assistant and 555th FST commander. “We were put through a lot of stressful situations and we were able to work through those situations. Our team dynamic improved a lot. We definitely feel we are ready to go downrange and do our job.”
Army Sgt. Colleen Mims, a licensed practical nurse and 555th FST Intensive Care Unit noncommissioned officer in charge, said the benefits of the training were endless.
“I would definitely recommend this training before deployment,” Mims said. “I think it gave us a good idea of how we work together as a team, our unit cohesion and what to expect in those field scenarios.”
Army Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Fahie, 555th FST detachment sergeant, said he was impressed with the caliber of the instructors for the course.
“The minds that they pulled together for this event is outstanding and amazing,” Fahie said. “The depth of their research and their experiences that they are able to give to our team to prepare us to conduct our operations was invaluable.”
“San Antonio is the best place for a trauma readiness program such as STaRC because of the large number of trauma experts we have in one geographic location,” Becker said.