View Full Version : Docs sharpen skills in Solar Challenge 2003

08-14-03, 09:24 AM
Docs sharpen skills in Solar Challenge 2003
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification Number: 200381322383
Story by Sgt. Daniel L. Patterson

CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan (Aug. 15,2003) -- Just as Marines cannot win a battle without accurate firepower, corpsmen cannot complete their mission without getting patients proper care. An important part of that care is mobility.

Marines and Sailors of 3rd Medical Battalion put their mobility skills to the test recently during Solar Challenge 2003 by setting up three Shock Trauma Platoons (STP) at different locations throughout the island. The locations were set up at Combat town, Landing Zone Hansen and Kin Blue.

This is the first year the exercise has been dubbed Solar Challenge, a name given because it is the most challenging exercise 3rd Medical Battalion does each year because it is done during the hottest months of the year, according to Navy Lt. Rod Salvador, plans and operations officer for the battalion.

According Salvador, a STP is a team composed of 25 medical personnel that is responsible for rapid resuscitation and stabilization during a combat operations.

Each day started with a different scenario and medical personnel had to sort out the patients and decide to either treat them there or transfer them to a different location that would provide additional medical care.

When they decided to send the patients to another location, the STP's depended on transportation from Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron-361 by a CH-53E.

It was after the helicopter landed at Combat Town, that the battalion's mobility was really put to the test. The helicopter lost power to the engine and was unable to continue flight operations. The patients were moved by a 7-Ton truck that was on standby.

While the helicopter was still operational, the docs had the opportunity, a first for some, to take patients onto the helicopter and strap them in safely.

While mobility was the main focus, the Marines and Sailors also received training in other areas of a field exercise. They performed Nuclear, Biological and Chemical drills, hot weather training and equipment familiarization.

"This was the first time to do this type training for some; they learned that heat can play a very big role in a field environment," Salvador said. "The heat affected the patients as well as the medical staff.

Salvador said that the battalion and each individual would be evaluated, and the results of the evaluation would be used in future operations.

"We are going to use the lessons learned during the exercise and use them to improve our weaknesses and continue to work on our strengths," Salvador said.

For some of the participants, the exercise was not only a chance to learn but also a chance to pass on their experience and help out the junior personnel.

"I have worked with a Marine unit before and this gave me the opportunity to teach the junior Sailors some of the skills I have learned over the years," said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class James R. Hill, corpsman for 3rd Medical Battalion.

Salvador said the exercise was successful and the battalion hopes to improve medical services to the Marines and Sailors when they deploy for real world situations.

"We hope to improve because we want to deploy a small footprint of highly mobile and efficient medical personnel when needed," Salvador said.


Private First Class Andre Robinson of Shock Trauma Platoon Six, 3rd Medical Battalion, Headquarters and Service Company, Motor Transport, 3rd Force Service Support Group, carries a wounded Marine out of harm's way while Shock Trauma Platoon 6 was on a mock patrol during the medical exercise, "Solar Challenge". This exercise is a great way for the Marines and sailors of 3rd Medical Battalion to train as if they were in a combat situation. "Solar Challenge" incorporates mass casualty training, nuclear biological and chemical attacks and injuries, and helicopter operations.

Photo by: Sgt. Daniel L. Patterson