YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Medical personnel aboard the amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown (LSD 42) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) participated in the first Expeditionary Resuscitative Surgical System (ERSS) during a surgical drill June 4-5.
A team of medical officers and hospital corpsmen from Naval Medical Center San Diego is the first ERSS trial group to introduce the Expeditionary Resuscitative Surgical System concept to U.S. 7th Fleet.
The San Diego naval medical team, which includes critical care nurses, surgical technicians, hospital corpsmen, an anesthesiologist and emergency room physicians performed simulated surgeries at two different ship platforms on Yokosuka Naval Base to evaluate the surgical and medical capabilities aboard U.S. 7th Fleet ships.
"The medical capabilities on a ship can be very limited," said Assistant Department Head for Materials Management at U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka Lt. j.g. Rannie Simpson. Simpson assisted in providing ongoing logistical support for the visiting ERSS San Diego naval medical team in Yokosuka.
According to Simpson, ERSS is "a huge step" for 7th Fleet because depending on the ships' platform and manning, medical personnel may not have sufficient medical supplies, training or authority to perform all surgical capabilities on a ship.
ERSS augments medical personnel and equipment from various medical facilities around the world to provide critical care that may not be readily available in the 7th Fleet. The system is designed to provide a tailored, mission-specific medical capability, close to the point of injury that supports the range of military operations afloat and ashore.
"The reason why the ERSS team from Naval Medical Center San Diego is here is so that medical personnel on ships in 7th Fleet can be familiar with equipment and supplies in addition to the ERSS platform," said Simpson.
During the medical drills on board both ships, personnel from Naval Medical Center San Diego showed how ERSS is the future of Navy surgical medicine in the Pacific.
"We are primarily in support of various operations that might require urgent access to trauma resuscitation and surgical treatment," said Emergency Medicine Physician Cmdr. Shaun Carstairs. "Rather than waiting hours for a patient to be medically evacuated through conventional means, we essentially bring the hospital to them, and we can treat them much earlier from their injury and hopefully save a life."
According to Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMPACFLT), there is a capability gap to support non-surgical platforms, which increases the medical risk to mission and force.
ERSS personnel on ships in the U.S. Pacific Fleet will be designated as a 48-hour, deployment team providing support to the operational commander across the range of military operations through a rapidly deployable, lightweight, scalable and adaptable response capability that is fully operationally capable on site within 96 hours of activation.
"The goal for this week is to identify and train two ERSS teams ready to deploy and provide forward resuscitative care in support of the range of military operations within Pacific Fleet area of operations," said Lt. Cmdr. Wil Morales, Chief of Medical Plans and Operations for U.S. Pacific Fleet Health Services. "We want to know the conflicts of bringing the team to different ship platforms."
According to Morales, the success of the ERSS exercises aboard USS Germantown and USS Fitzgerald in Yokosuka will determine if COMPACFLT will establish a permanent ERSS for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.
Once the ERSS team is officially established, COMPACFLT will look to further training on various medical exercises in the U.S. Pacific Fleet in order to maintain medical qualifications and operational readiness.
"To be a part of this team from the ground floor is exciting because we have the opportunity to mold ERSS teams in the U.S. Pacific Fleet," said Carstairs. "Hopefully through training and exercises we can come up with a platform that is really complete and ready to go and take care of patients."
Visiting medical personnel such as Intensive Care Unit nurse Lt.j.g. Lexus Anderson hopes to see the ERSS concept implemented to all ships in U.S. 7th Fleet.
"Being out here and seeing two different platforms can put in perspective the way we have to do logistical planning and what medical supplies to bring in case of emergency," said Anderson. "ERSS will be a very good asset to 7th Fleet. We will cover so much and our mission will be so much greater."