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JBSA News
NEWS | April 11, 2014

Burn flight team provides training for combat support hospital

By Steven Galvan USAISR Public Affairs

The burn flight team from the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston has a reputation of living up to its motto: "Anytime, Anywhere."

That's because, since 1951, the team has been deployed throughout the world to provide their expertise in burn care and transport burn casualties to the burn center, which has been crucial in saving hundreds of lives on and off the battlefield.

The team's burn care and transport know-how was requested March 19-20 at Fort Hood, Texas by members of the 21st Combat Support Hospital who were training to deploy later this year in support of overseas contingency operations.

Maj. Michael Plueger, a 21st CSH critical care nurse, stressed that the training is necessary in providing those wounded in combat the best care.

"There's always the possibility of us having to care for a burn patient," Plueger said.

"This training will not make us experts in burn care, but can provide us the insight that can help us care for a burn patient effectively."

The three-day training commenced with classroom presentations on emergency care of burn patients, burn resuscitation and the use of the Burn Navigator, management of a patient with inhalation injury, and preparing a burn patient for transport. Team members also served as subject matter experts and provided guidance during the hands-on portion of the field training exercise.

"Burn patients have specific needs that if not addressed appropriately can cause detrimental results," said Maj. Michael P. Meissel, Burn Intensive Care Unit critical care registered nurse and burn flight team chief nurse. "We want to emphasize these needs and highlight the resources available to units to provide the right care at the right time."

Burn flight teams are composed of five vital team members who are assigned to the BICU: a general surgeon trained in burn and surgical critical care services; a critical care registered nurse; a licensed vocational nurse; a certified respiratory therapist, and an operations noncommissioned officer. All except for the operations NCO were providing training to the CSH.

Also on hand was the burn center chief of nurses, Lt. Col. Paul Mittelsteadt, who said that this type of training serves the USAISR mission of advancing combat casualty care.

"It's not all research," he said. "Sometimes, it's assessing practical applications derived from combat casualty care research."

Meissel added that the BFT involvement in the field training exercise is essential because the lessons learned in recent conflicts have led to improved outcomes for burn patients.

"In order to maximize the use of these lessons, I hope the combat support hospital staff knows they have the burn center and the USAISR clinical practice guidelines as resources available 24/7."