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NEWS | March 5, 2014

Forward surgical teams hone skills at U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center pre-deployment training

By Steven Galvan USAISR Public Affairs

Forward surgical teams are a highly skilled group of critical care providers who give combat wounded medical attention within a war zone during the first hour, also known as the "golden hour" of injury.

Deployed to support overseas contingency operations, FSTs are composed of 20 critical care team members who train for months prior to deploying to ensure a cohesive and effective team to care for wounded warriors and prepare them for the next level of medical attention.

The 126th FST from Fort Hood, Texas, is preparing for a deployment in 2014 and recently honed their critical care skills with a five-day pre-deployment training at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research Burn Center.

Army Maj. Scott A. Phillips, burn center senior critical care nurse specialist and chief of the USAISR Clinical Education Department, helped design the training to expose the FST on crucial care for combat wounded burn casualties.

"Everything we do is to benefit Soldiers on the battlefield," Phillips said. "Our job is to get the FSTs trained on burn care since they provide critical medical treatment as forward as possible in a war zone."

Designing realistic hands-on training was the goal of Phillips, who has firsthand experience in a deployed war zone setting.

"Burn patients have to be properly resuscitated within the first 72 hours of injury," he said. "Too much or too little fluids can be fatal. Our goal is to train FSTs who do not have much experience with working on burn casualties on how to properly resuscitate them."

One of the tools used to accomplish proper resuscitation is the incorporation of the Burn Navigator in the training. The Burn Navigator (Burn Resuscitation Decision Support System) is designed to assist non-burn care providers with recommendations on how to properly resuscitate a burn casualty and assist in avoiding problems related to over- or under-resuscitating by medical care providers who do not routinely care for burn patients.

Army Maj. Jodelle Schroeder, the 126th FST chief and critical care nurse specialist, said that the exposure to burn care training is important for her team.

"It serves two purposes," Schroeder said. "First, it gives us an opportunity to work together as a team for a quick evaluation of treatment, and it exposes us to burn patients so that we will know how to care for a burn patient."