SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Sailors aboard amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4) passed the Fleet Support Operations-Medical (FSO-M) 1.3 assessment with an overall score of 96, Sept. 22.
FSO-M, typically held every 36 months, is a Commander, Naval Surface Forces-mandated inspection in which Afloat Training Group (ATG) Pacific evaluates the crew's performance in simulated medical casualties, stretcher-bearer drills, battle dressing station (BDS) operations and a mass casualty drill.
Due to Boxer's stellar performance, the ship's crew completed the evaluations ahead of schedule, and will not be required to complete FSO-M 1.4, the remediation inspection.
"Surface warfare is a team sport. Every problem or certification on this ship is a Boxer problem. In light of the recent tragedies, that strikes home with this crew, and they responded accordingly and together," said Capt. Benjamin Allbritton, Boxer's commanding officer.
Unlike other medical assessments, FSO-M tests the ship's crew rather than just the medical department. Every department aboard Boxer was tested individually and was required to apply their level of medical knowledge while working together to render medical aid during simulated casualty scenarios.
"We are also assessed on our management of our occupational health programs such as heat and hearing," said Lt. Cmdr. Dana Lilli, Boxer's senior medical officer. "FSO-M certification has been a huge success on Boxer due to excellent command involvement, attention to high priority and training the crew to respond to medical casualties. The knowledge displayed this week needs to be retained throughout the rest of the training cycle until it is time to get tested again."
According to Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Matthew Bauer, Boxer's independent duty corpsman and medical department's leading chief petty officer, ATG inspectors said approximately one-third of San Diego-based ships score high enough in all sections of FSO-M to avoid FSO-M 1.4, with the average fleet-wide score being in the mid-eighties.
To prepare for FSO-M, Sailors assigned to Boxer's medical department invested time and energy training the crew to increase first aid proficiency.
"Every department being medically knowledgeable is important because in emergencies, Sailors who aren't corpsmen need to be the first responders," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Joshua Reuss. "We prepared the crew for this week's inspections with stretcher bearer training, mass casualty drills, training with every department on the ship on the 11 basic wounds, duty section training, heat stress training and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)."
Displaying proficiency during this inspection reinforces the fact that Boxer's secondary mission is to serve as a casualty receiving and treatment ship, and FSO-M is only one component of the preparations that are required for Boxer to be certified as operationally ready to deploy.
"Completing FSO-M is a significant step for the medical department to get back up and running and to complete Boxer's mission," said Cmdr. Michael Fortunato, Boxer's prospective senior medical officer.
According to the Surface Force Readiness Manual (COMNAVSURFPAC/COMNAVSURFLANT INSTRUCTION 3502.3), FSO-M is one of six mission areas that must maintain high proficiency throughout the maintenance and shakedown phases of a ship's deployment cycle. Other mission areas include antiterrorism, damage control, maintenance material management (3M), supply, and explosive safety.
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