Experience strengthens response to battlefield trauma
20 December 2012
The Australian Defence Force's capacity to respond to battlefield trauma will benefit from the experience gained by a group of Australian medical specialists during their recent four month deployment to a US Navy-led trauma hospital in Afghanistan.
Royal Australian Navy Orthopaedic Surgeon, Commander Dr. Ian Young led a group of eight Australian health specialists attached to the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield.
With the group returning to Australia in early December, Commander Young reflected on some of the achievements for the tri-service Health Specialist Group 2 (HSG2) which consisted of Anaesthetists, Burn/Trauma Surgeon, Operating Room Perioperative Nurse, Intensive Care Nurses and Anaesthetic Nurse.
“This year has been the first time Australia has provided health specialists to the NATO Role 3 in Kandahar with our group being the second deployed to this facility during 2012.” Commander Young said.
Operating under US Navy operational command, HSG2 provided expertise in Damage Control Resuscitation and Surgery for Coalition and ANSF at the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit, being deployed as surge capacity to cover the latter half of the traditional fighting season between August and November.
“It certainly was a professional highlight to be integrated into a world-class military trauma hospital,” Commander Young said.
“Managing numerous battlefield casualties with multiple extensive injuries provided comprehensive clinical trauma experience for all members of the group.”
The specialists treated an Australian soldier who was critically wounded in an IED blast on 23 August 2012.
“This was a particularly moving and humbling experience.” Commander Young said.
That day was made more hectic with the group responding to a Mass Casualty incident with eleven US casualties sustaining similar trauma injuries. At times up to eight surgeons would work on a single casualty.
Commander Young said each member gained valuable clinical experience managing combat casualties with US Navy staff who were well versed in trauma management.
“Certainly the Australian Defence Force will benefit from the experience and knowledge gained by all members of HSG2 particularly in treating blast injuries. This deployment will add to the knowledge base for the ongoing development of our deployed health assets.”