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Medical Training Becomes More Realistic
by U.S. Army Clinton Wood - April 15, 2014

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"Mere Chance" by David G. Bancroft

JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. –Maj. Gen David Puster, Commanding General of the 84th Training Command, Fort Knox, Ky., told his subordinate training division leaders at the Command's Senior Leaders Workshop at Fort Knox February 7-9, 2014, that the 84th TC or “Railsplitters” should take the training of units to the “Gold Standard and Beyond.” The Railsplitters are the Gold Standard for training because units training at their exercises undergo very realistic training as if they were deployed.

Coincidentally, at the command's second exercise of Fiscal Year 2014 at JB MDL, the 78th Training Division's Combat Support Training Exercise/Global Medic 78-14-01 from Feb. 14 until March 6, Army Reserve Medical Command Soldiers, U.S. Navy Assets and Canadian forces trained on something for the first time.

It was the Human-Worn Partial-Task Surgical Simulator dubbed the "cut suit.” This 35-pound upper body suit made of silicone and nylon fiber worn by a role player allows realistic treatment from the point of injury to the Operating Room. The user repairable suit can be cut or sliced and has the look, feel and smell of traumatic battlefield injuries. Medical personnel can perform numerous applications, including suturing, stapling, applying tourniquets, inserting chest tubes, performing a tracheotomy and removing the fake organs. X-rays can also be taken.

Sgt. Maj. Birgit James, operations sergeant major for the Medical Readiness and Training Command, San Antonio, Texas, cuts the “skin” of a Human-Worn Partial-Task Surgical Simulator, dubbed the "cut suit," worn by a role player during the 78th Training Division’s Combat Support Training Exercise/Global Medic 78-14-01 on February 22, 2014, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. (Photo courtesy of MRTC)
Sgt. Maj. Birgit James, operations sergeant major for the Medical Readiness and Training Command, San Antonio, Texas, cuts the “skin” of a Human-Worn Partial-Task Surgical Simulator, dubbed the "cut suit," worn by a role player during the 78th Training Division's Combat Support Training Exercise/Global Medic 78-14-01 on February 22, 2014, at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. (Photo courtesy of MRTC)

The suits were provided by the Medical Readiness and Training Command, San Antonio, Texas. The command purchased three complete sets from Strategic Operations, San Diego, Calif. (each suit cost an estimated $60,000). Each set contains four skins, one chest plate vest with breakable and repairable ribs and sternum and numerous body parts.

Master Sgt. Tinamarie Reese, operations noncommissioned officer in charge of the MRTC, said her command's intent in buying these suits was to implement them into all the collective exercises to better enhance the medical training environment and make the training more realistic. “So now, when they go into an OR instead of saying I am going to do A, B and C, they actually do full surgery on these suits,” she said of a physician's role.

Maj. James Compliment, an observer/controller for the 7301st Medical Training Support Battalion, JB MDL and a nurse practitioner in Pittsburg, Pa., said what impressed him most about this suit was the multiple use capability (from the field to the OR).

Sgt. Maj. Birgit James, the MRTC Operations sergeant major, added that these suits are important to Army Reserve soldiers because it will assist them in being as well trained as Active Duty Soldiers because the latter are able to train in their medical Military Occupational Specialty daily.

“So in having this realistic training, it is paramount for our (Reserve) soldiers and for our command,” said James, an emergency medical technician in San Antonio, and a former 68W (Health Care Specialist) instructor.

Reese, who has been in the Army Reserve for more than 19 years, noted that creating Global Medic Exercises and providing OCs are among MRTC's missions. “Our whole mission in the MRTC is exercise driven for the Army Reserve's medical units,” she said.

This was the first Global Medic Exercise overseen by the 84th TC this fiscal year. The 84th TC, which is recognized as the premiere organization for training and assessment of units, will oversee two more of these Global Medic Exercises in FY 2014. The next one will be the 86th Training Division's CSTX at Fort McCoy, Wis., April 26 - May 14, 2014 and the 91st Training Division's CSTX at Fort Hunter Liggett, Calif., June 7-27, 2014.

Reese pointed out that there are a lot of Reserve soldiers in the medical field that only do this type of work while they are at their monthly battle assemblies or undergoing annual training. “This helps them actually get hands on training in their MOS training that they may not do on the civilian side,” she said.

Reese also pointed out that realistic training like this will assist in retaining Soldiers. “If a soldier goes to AT and actually enjoys it, then they are going to want to go back again,” she said.

How realistic is this suit? Try this on for size. OCs use a wireless fob to control the simulated blood flow from an unattached large camelback-like pack, the body organs look real and a few are custom made to have wounds like a bullet hole in the spleen.
As far as smell, let's just say whoever is treating a “victim” will know if his bowel was severed during the simulated injury.

James said this teaches soldiers that they will need to use more than sight when treating patients. “We use all our senses,” she said.

Having a soldier wear the suit is beneficial in many ways. The soldier can scream in simulated pain to increase the first responder's stress levels. The Navy went so far as to hire a professional actor to wear a cut suit during its Collective Protection Exercise last year in Cheatham Annex, Williamsburg, Va.

Whoever wears the suit also is able to learn surgical procedures by listening to the conversations.

Compliment added that having input from a live patient also is a great teaching tool.

There are guidelines to who can wear a suit. First, only male gender Soldiers at the present time. Second, the minimum height is 5-foot-7 inches with the maximum height being 6-foot-2 inches and a role player should weigh at least 140 pounds. Four hours is the maximum time to wear the suit.

The role players' safety also is taken in account. He wears a Kevlar neck piece. Underneath ther “cut suit” skin is the chest plate vest with a Kevlar plate to protect the role player.

James said with a chuckle that soldiers were excited to wear the suit and some were even making bets of who would get chosen.

It is a good bet that this innovative suit will only get more real.

“I see this as the way of the future and more modern suits coming out,” said Reese.

By U.S. Army Clinton Wood
Provided through DVIDS
Copyright 2014

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