The crew of the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) took part in a mass casualty drill July 27 during the sea phase of Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) Exercise 2014.
The drill which emulated an oil platform explosion and included 30 patients with mock injuries and a series of helicopter medical evacuations.
“The purpose of today’s drill was to prepare Mercy’s medical providers, nurses and hospital corpsmen to be ready for a real-life mass casualty,” said Lt. Gary Galicinao, casualty receiving division officer aboard Mercy. “In case we are called upon anywhere in the world, we will be ready to provide the necessary medical help.”
The multinational event included patients flown in from the Royal Australian Navy ship HMAS Success (OR 304) via a Japanese helicopter from the Japan Self-Defense Force Destroyer Ise (DDH-182).
Cmdr. Gilbert Seda, medical director of casualty receiving aboard Mercy said the crew is preparing itself to respond at moment’s notice in the event of a real-life military incident or humanitarian disaster. “The drills ensure the medical staff, ship security, administrative department, and flight crew are familiar with various procedures so that we can provide the best care possible,” Seda said.
One of the main goals of the mass casualty drill was to help team leaders evaluate how Mercy’s crew would manage patients arriving en masse.
“This drill has given Mercy a great opportunity to see what it’s like to manage multiple casualties while at the same time managing all other aspects of the medical treatment facility, like the ward and intensive care unit,” Seda said. “It is also a chance to how to work on how to properly distribute our staff in such a mass casualty situation.”
The drill featured the most patients of an RIMPAC mass casualty drill to date.
“We actually allowed all the patients to go through the entire ship so we could see how effective we are as far from both a logistical and an operational standpoint,” said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Charles Hogue.
As one of RIMPAC’s goals is to foster cooperative relationships between nations, the drill continues to keep Mercy’s crew ready when called upon for medical assistance from an allied partner nation or another country, according to Seda.
Press Release, July 30, 2014; Image: Wikimedia