Training : 2007 US Army Reserve Training - California

June 13, 2007
2007 US Army Reserve Training - California
344th Combat Support Hospital - 44 bed detachment

Just outside of Oakland, CA is Camp Parks where my last US Army Reserve annual training drill took place. This was my first full scale training with the 344th Combat Support Hospital (CSH) since I joined the unit last August.  It was also the first time Iíve attended a comprehensive integration of a CSH in a live scenario based drill called Golden Medic.  There were over 700 US army reservists who participated in addition to a multitude of other units of Army Guard and US Air Force.  The entire scenario was a mock battlefield in a foreign country and we were tasked with providing medical care not only to US soldiers, including army drug/bomb dogs (whom have rank and are treated like real soldiers) but also, enemy combatants and local civilians in order to test the overall functioning of the hospital staff and equipment.

The hospital was set up in 11 hours and was fully functional from 15 flatbed trucks and large steel boxes called conexís.  Following this was a 72 hour simulation that had nearly 200 patients pass through the hospital.  Half were mannequins, and the rest were soldiers acting as patients.   Most patients (including the dog) were moulaged to imitate real injuries that would be sustained in the battlefield.  Each patient would be brought in by helicopter, army ambulance, or sometimes in large numbers by 5 ton trucks.  Next they would pass through the EMT (Emergency Medical Treatment) or ìERî and then to the operating room, intensive care unit, or to the ward beds.   Finally, the simulated patients would be evacuated out of the foreign country by the air force medical transport teams also participating in the drill.  I have been involved in EMS mass causality drills before, but at the most they only lasted 4-6 hours, never 72 hours. The scale and real world feel of how it would be to deal with this situation is what impressed me most about this week of training.

Overall the exercise was a great learning opportunity that augmented what I had already experienced during my 3 month deployment at the CSH in Abu Ghraib, Iraq nearly 1 O years ago.  In California as well as in Iraq, I enjoyed teaching many of the nurses and medics how to treat the multitude of injuries we encountered.   With my training and experience in emergency medicine, I found I was well prepared to perform my duties not only in a civilian ED, but also in a CSH.

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