USS Makin Island
“Gung Ho”
Fleet Surgical Team 5 Supports Makin Island ARG Medical Missions
By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Alan Gragg, Amphibious Squadron 5 Public Affairs
USS MAKIN ISLAND, At sea - Medical personnel assigned to Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 5 briefed Marine Corps pilots about medical evacuation procedures aboard amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), Jan. 6.

Personnel from FST-5, a key unit assigned to the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), demonstrated how casualties are handled in flight when being flown to the ship on a medical evacuation for treatment or flown off the ship as part of a casualty evacuation.

Lt. Jonathan Levenson, FST-5's critical care nurse, led the training for pilots assigned to Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 268 (Reinforced), and also gave them a tour of the ship's medical facilities.

"I believe it is important to let the pilots and crew chiefs know how important they are within the entire medical evacuation process," said Levenson. "They are a big reason why we are able to maintain a high survival rate throughout the continuum of care that has the potential to move a patient more than 7,000 miles without clinically compromising the patient's condition."

Levenson used a variety of training materials to educate the pilots.

"I like to show the pilots some unedited pictures of what is under the bandages of our most critical patients they transport, to help emphasize this point," added Levenson.

Cmdr. Eric Stedje-Larsen, FST-5's officer-in-charge and Commander, Amphibious Task Force surgeon, said lending a hand during evolutions like this is nothing new for his team.

"The robust training we have done with the Marines and the rest of the ARG has created a cohesive system to care for injured patients," said Stedje-Larsen. "It takes a team to care and move patients throughout all our areas of operation."

Stedje-Larsen said that testing and demonstrating FST-5 capabilities with the other units that make up the Makin Island ARG enhance function ability and ultimately leads to better care.

"In our business, the 90 percent solution is not enough," said Stedje-Larsen. "We need 100 percent, every time."

The mission of a fleet surgical team is to deploy with medical and surgical capabilities in support of the ARG, as well as supporting contingency operations.

FST-5 is comprised of medical and surgical professionals with mission critical specializations designed to supplement Makin Island's medical department with medical specialists, said Stedje-Larsen.

Members consist of a medical regulating and coordinating officer, senior enlisted leader, general surgeon, family practice physician, anesthesia provider, critical care nurse, operating room nurse, two surgical technicians, two laboratory technicians, one respiratory technician, two general corpsman, and one radiology technician.

In addition to Makin Island, FST-5 has detachments aboard the other two ships assigned to Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5, amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).

PHIBRON 5 elements, along with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, make up the Makin Island ARG.

Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island ARG, supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

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