EAST CHINA SEA – Hospital Corpsmen throughout the Navy have the ultimate responsibility to render medical assistance at a moment’s notice and the corpsmen assigned to the medical department aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) live up to that responsibility every day.
The medical department aboard McCampbell not only trains within the department, but in order to aid in the extremely demanding task of providing emergency medical care and first responder assistance, they conduct various emergency medical trainings for the rest of the 250 members of the crew.
The three members of McCampbell’s medical department consisting of Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Kenneth Metzger, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Melissa Lusk and the Medical Department Head, Chief Hospital Corpsmen (SW) Juan N. Breboneria, train Sailors in CPR, first aid and stretcher bearing as part of the medical training team (MTT).
“This is the first chance that I have had to work with and train Sailors who have no medical background,” said Metzger. “We provide all the medical training to the ten volunteer stretcher bearers we have aboard. There isn’t a week that goes by that we don’t conduct that training to ensure we do it right and can carry people safely to receive treatment.”
The MTT trains Sailors in basic first aid and CPR. Each member of the medical team is responsible for supporting and participating in training exercises that help raise the crew’s awareness to the possible dangers they may encounter.
“We have to train them up to be on par with emergency responders. We do drills multiple times a week to teach them how to react in case of a real medical emergency and what to look out for so that they do not put themselves in harm’s way,” said Metzger.
Due to the demanding nature of being forward deployed, it’s a necessity for the medical training team to work as a cohesive unit, working off of each other’s strengths.
“Team work is extremely important. If there is an emergency, I will need my team there swiftly and on the same page. Petty Officer Metzger and Lusk are extraordinary and I am proud of them. Petty Officer Metzger has been a good addition to my team - he has hit the deck running, and due to his meticulous nature, he gets things done right the first time,” said Breboneria. “We couldn’t function as efficiently as we do without Petty Officer Lusk either; she plays a valuable role in training other Sailors. The knowledge that she brings to the table makes the entire team better at our job. I couldn’t do it without them.”
The corpsmen aboard are also present at every major evolution on the ship, because safety is of the upmost importance during any operation.
“We’re not just here in case something happens, i.e. an accident with the helicopter or someone goes overboard. We try to provide the crew with a skill set that may help them save each others lives,” said Lusk. “We train others because we can’t be everywhere at once. We want everyone to be safe during evolutions. We know not everyone has the same desire to do what we do, but we want everyone comfortable with the basics, and that’s why we train the crew on how to respond to medical emergencies.”
The team plays a fundamental role in supporting mission readiness and the continuing operation of McCampbell. The time spent training individual Sailors for multiple types of medical emergencies ensures the crew practices safer working routines during every evolution.
“It’s important that we train people on the ship for first aid in preparation for any emergency situation,” said Metzger. “There needs to be people aboard to react no matter what. The ship can’t depend on just three people with medical knowledge in case of disaster.”
McCampbell’s medical department hopes to continue training its Sailors in order to have more stretcher bearers and move those already qualified to the medical training team.
USS McCampbell is assigned to Commander, Destroyer Squadron 15, and forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan and is currently on patrol in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.