USS AMERICA - At Sea (NNS) -- USS America (LHA 6) completed a series of mass casualty drills during its first underway in 10 months after completing a post-shakedown availability, March 22.
The drills were designed to prepare the medical training team and ship's crew for an upcoming inspection referred to as Fleet Service Operation Medical 1.4 with Afloat Training Group, San Diego.
The shipboard inspection will assess the MTT, their level of knowledge in emergency response and the crew's knowledge of basic first aid.
Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Brian Butorac, Medical department's leading chief petty officer, explained the significance of having the crew prepared for any casualty.
"The overall importance is making sure we are ready to go to sea," said Butorac. "Doing these drills on a day-to-day basis ensures that, at any time, if there is an accident or emergency involving an injured crew member, another crew member is ready to respond to help the fallen casualty, or possibly save a life."
Each day, the training team executes a different casualty, whether it's a compound fracture, sucking chest wound, a facial wound or electrical shock. One day during the underway, the crew and MTT held seven drills sporadically throughout the ship. Their goal was to test the crew's proficiency in responding at any given moment.
Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Fabiola Cesar, a member of the MTT, explained the importance of holding each individual drill.
"Our drills and the knowledge we provide goes toward aiding crew readiness," said Cesar. "We have to prepare for the mission. You have to train like you fight, and you fight like you train. Once you drill, you gain the knowledge and the experience, and it becomes second nature."
The last drill was a mass casualty held in the ship's forecastle. With all of the unpredictability of a mass casualty, preparation is vital to assisting injured personnel.
Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Jaime Cardenas, the program coordinator for casualty drills, described the crew's progress in the treatment of each casualty situation.
"I can tell from the beginning that we needed some work," said Cardenas. "We were just unorganized, and as we did these drills over and over, I've seen us improve and our confidence build with every drill. I enjoy seeing the progress from where we started, and I feel confident that if we have a real casualty that we will be able to respond to it and respond well."
"I love training and this is why I joined MTT," said Cesar. "I think it's awesome for the crew, and the drills we do will only help us down the road in case of any emergency."
America is an aviation-centric amphibious assault ship that provides forward presence and power projection as an integral part of joint interagency and multinational maritime expeditionary forces. It will support Marine aviation requirements, from small-scale contingency operations of an expeditionary strike group, to forcible entry missions in major theaters of war. America is currently conducting maritime training operations off the coast of California.
For more news from USS America (LHA 6), visit http://www.navy.mil/local/lha6/.