Docs restore troops to clean bill for CROC '03
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification Number: 200310201022
Story by Cpl. M. Stew Allen

CAMP SAMUEL HILL, Queensland, Australia (Oct. 2, 2003) -- Sooner or later everybody needs medical attention, and the corpsmen and medical officers of the Battalion Aid Station (BAS) here, stand ready to provide it.

The medical personnel here are responsible for the health of more than 2,600 troops supporting exercise Crocodile 2003.

CROC '03 is an Australian-led, United States-supported air, land, maritime and amphibious operations exercise design to refine and strengthen U.S./Australian capabilities to plan and execute future combined operations.

According to Navy Lt. Mark D. Williams, general medical officer, Combat Service Support Detachment-35, Brigade Service Support Group-3, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Brigade, the BAS acts as a sick call for the troops, treating minor to moderate injuries. Common ailments occurring throughout the exercise include muscular and skeletal injuries such as ankle sprains and lower-back pain, upper-respiratory infections such as the cold or flu and "huge boil-like infections" called abscesses.

Williams shares advice to currently deployed troops on how to avoid these illnesses.

Williams said, the majority of the muscular and skeletal injuries are due to physical training, and even though he would never tell a servicemember not to exercise because he himself is an athletic person, it's still important to use caution when running or lifting weights.

A large amount of the upper-respiratory infections may be due to the Marines and sailors setting foot on a new continent with a new set of bacteria. According to Williams, the majority of the colds are caused by troops becoming complacent with the weather.

"A lot of the troops don't realize they need to acclimatize to the new temperatures," he said. "Then they may walk to the showers in their (physical training clothing) at night when it's cold and then they don't even recognize why they're getting sick. A virus only needs the smallest invitation to infect your body."

Staying as clean as possible may help reduce the chance of getting an infection such as an abscess; the most important procedure according to Williams is seeking medical attention as soon as the ailment is noticed.

Williams said he is grateful that so far there has only been minor medical ailments reported.

"I somewhat expected to see more injuries. All and all, I've been very impressed," he said. "We haven't had any life threatening injuries which I'm thankful for. The Marines have been taking very good care of themselves."

While the purpose of the medical personnel of CROC '03 is to keep troops healthy, the exercise is also being used as an opportunity for the medical officers to train the corpsmen, according to Williams. The BAS personnel spend a total of four hours per day training on topics covering the "full spectrum" of medical care.

"It's important to train our corpsmen because the corpsmen go to the field with the Marines and share the same birthing. As medical officers, we have to realize the Marines are probably going to go to the corpsmen before they see us," he said. "The corpsmen help bridge the gap between the Marines and the medical officers. They act as the first line of care."

Being the "first line of care" may be a large responsibility, but to Navy Seaman Aldrin A. Augustus, corpsman, CSSD-35, BSSG-3, it can also be very rewarding.

"The joy of my job comes from when I see a Marine and help him out, and then he comes in the next day and says 'thank you,'" he said.