View Full Version : Surgical corpsmen cut through obstacles

11-07-03, 09:41 AM
Surgical corpsmen cut through obstacles
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification Number: 2003115233716
Story by Cpl. Ryan D. Libbert

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan(Oct, 24, 2003) -- Navy field medicine recently took a leap forward through a bold new concept developed by medical officials three years ago called the Forward Resuscitative Surgical Suite, or FRSS.

The FRSS helps Navy corpsmen increase the number of lives saved on the battlefield by essentially taking a deployable surgical wing from a field hospital and placing it closer to the front line (within an hour away) fighting of ground combat troops. Corpsmen with 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group conducted their first training opportunity with the new FRSS during Exercise Autumn Endeavor '03 Oct. 19-24.

The FRSS concept is important because it increases the valuable response time surgeons have to save the lives of wounded combatants, due to its close proximity to the battle area and its casualties.

"The FRSS is designed to bring life and limb saving surgery care to the far forward battle front," said Navy Capt. Stephen F. McCartney, group surgeon for 3rd FSSG. "It is intended to only accept patients who would otherwise die if they waited to be evacuated to a field hospital further in the rear."

The FRSS consists of several inter-connected, modernized general-purpose tents; one for triage (assessing the injuries of incoming wounded), a pre-operation preparation room, a surgical area, and an area for post-operative care.

The FRSS is equipped with state-of-the-art medical equipment capable of dealing with chest, abdominal and vascular injuries. The FRSS is able to provide medical assistance for up to 18 patients before it needs to be re-supplied.

The suite weighs around 59,000 pounds and is deployable via one 5-ton tactical vehicle and two high mobility multi-purpose wheeled vehicles (humvees) or one rotary aircraft and can be set up and running within one hour of arrival.

"The FRSS is very versatile in combat," McCartney said. "The key to making it work is constant practice amongst the corpsmen and doctors running it. It's very light and timely, but the team running it must have be prepared for anything and have the knowledge capable for dealing with it."

The FRSS was proven successful in real-world scenarios during Operation Iraqi Freedom. According to McCartney, who served with one of the six FRSSs in OIF, medical personnel operating the units saved 100 percent of the 96 patients they treated during the war.

The suite is also ideally suited to provide aid in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief projects.

With a price tag of $350,000, the FRSS is a small investment compared to the lives it saves.

"Without the FRSS, the 96 patients it saved in Iraq would have died," said Petty Officer 3rd Class Sylvia A. McBee, medical corpsmen. "I think the FRSS is a good and very important idea. I hope it is something we will continue to use in the future."


Injuries like this burned hand are usually shipped to a shock trauma platoon at a field hospital instead of being treated at an FRSS. The success of the FRSS depends on the corpsmen running it to determine which injuries to treat and which ones to evacuate to a hospital. Photo by: Cpl. Ryan D. Libbert