USS MOMSEN, At sea - A team of medical officers and hospital corpsmen assigned to the 8th Expeditionary Resuscitative Surgical System (ERSS), embarked aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Momsen (DDG 92), are prepared, should the need to arise, to render medical assistance to members of visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team.
ERSS teams are deployed aboard surface naval ships conducting counter-piracy missions which normally do not have a fully staffed emergency medical team. The team's primary purpose is to provide any necessary life-saving surgery and quickly transport the patient to a higher level of care.
"We are here to treat any severe injuries that might result during VBSS operations," said Cmdr. Todd Parker, the emergency medicine physician. "We treat anything that compromises the patient's ability to breathe or circulate blood throughout their body."
The ERSS is comprised of nine Sailors and split into three teams: expeditionary trauma team, expeditionary surgical team and expeditionary transport team. Even though the physician, surgeon, nurses and hospital corpsmen are divided into separate teams, they would act as one team during a real emergency situation.
"The unit is modeled after similar types of mobile trauma bays that are deployed with the Marines," said Parker. "Ultimately, we operate as one team and back each other up."
In the event of an emergency, the team has built a temporary operating room aboard Momsen. After surgery has been completed by the expeditionary surgical team, the expeditionary transport team would then take charge to medically evacuate the patient to the nearest hospital or to a larger ship, such as an aircraft carrier equipped with more resources to treat the patient.
"My primary mission is to be a transport nurse if we had to medically evacuate a patient," said Lt. j.g. Thomas Gaffney, critical care nurse for the expeditionary transport team. "I keep the patient stable."
The team trains daily in various scenarios to maintain their medical qualifications and operational readiness.
"As a Navy medical professional, you give Sailors fighting at the tip of the spear the peace of mind that if something happens to them, there's going to be someone there to take care of them," said Parker.
Momsen is deployed with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, which also includes aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9, with guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104).
CSG 9 is operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility (AOR) conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.