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Maj. Jovitta Chandler, BSN, R.N., left, talks with Danica Ninkovic, MSN, R.N., about the U.S. Army Forward Surgical Team, which set up a simulated battleground operating room at the School of Nursingís Frist Hall earlier this week. (photo by Joe Howell)

VUSN displays Armyís mobile medical capabilities

BY: KATHY RIVERS

3/22/2012 - Vanderbilt University School of Nursing students and members of the community had an opportunity to learn more about battlefield health care this week thanks to the U.S. Army Forward Surgical Team (FST) simulation setup in the Frist Hall Atrium.

The FST is deployed by the Army and other medical services in mobile medical facilities in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have also been deployed in civilian relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina in 2006.

The Forward Surgical Team consists of a 20-member health team and sophisticated equipment, run by generator, designed to provide surgical capability on the battlefield to stabilize and resuscitate patients with life threatening injuries.

“The mobile medical facilities and nurses working in them have contributed to the lowest died-of-wounds rate ever for the U.S. Military in both Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Col. Kelly Wolgast, U.S. Army (Ret.) and VUSN Health Systems Management faculty member. “This is a powerful way of teaching nursing students and the community about military medicine and military nursing.”

The unit consists of four surgeons, two certified nurse anesthetists, one intensive care nurse, one emergency department nurse, one operating room nurse, three licensed practice nurses, three operating room techs, four medics and one executive officer.

“The battlefield theater is so vast and evacuation times can be long. These units are essential to saving lives of our soldiers,” said Capt. Melanie Bowman, BSN, R.N., who served in the 274th Surgical Team based out of Fort Bragg, N.C., and was deployed to Iraq.

FST equipment includes two operating beds, an advanced trauma life support section and a post-operative section, and can handle 10 surgical cases per 24-hour period, or up to 30 surgical cases in 72 hours without restocking.

“We see significant polytrauma with multiple life-threating injuries from the battlefield. It’s our job to treat everyone — including Afghanis and Iraqis — as our own,” said Bowman.

Bowman said that the U.S. Army is making tremendous progress in battlefield health procedures and changing clinical practice guidelines as a result of advances in trauma care.

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